"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." (Psalm 126:5-6, NIV)
Not long ago I had a chat with a pastor's wife who had a wounded heart. As a pastor's wife you will likely relate to her cry. She spoke of feeling forgotten by the congregation. She spoke of the many ways she had poured out and sacrificed for individuals and families in the church, only to feel unappreciated, undervalued, and in many cases, used. She was not experiencing the reciprocation of care, and she felt unloved by many in her church family whom she loves dearly.
I know she is not alone. It is a cry I frequently hear from ministry wives. I have learnt over the years that it is human nature to expect to be on the receiving end of the golden rule - expecting others to do unto us as we have done unto them. And the practice of reciprocation is Biblical. The Bible gives the believers in the congregation the responsibility of making the work of their spiritual leaders a joy and not a burden as those spiritual leaders serve the Body. (Heb. 13:17)
But here is another truth and reality. That mandate to make it a joy and not a burden is given to the congregation, and they hold responsibility for it. You cannot walk that mandate out on their behalf. They must walk it out themselves. It is our responsibility and joy as Pastors' wives, regardless of the mandate given to the congregation, to do what we do as unto the Lord. (Col. 3:17, 23) Those words can begin to sound like a cliché: "Do it as unto the Lord." Sadly, if they have become a cliché in our lives, we will no doubt experience great dissatisfaction because we will serve with misplaced motives.
Dear sister, we have to set our hope and delight in the Lord. We have to find pure joy in seeing His love and truth poured from ourselves into the lives of others. We must truly have a heart of gratitude for the privilege of making disciples. We must trust the Lord for the harvest in the lives of those into whom we sow. And be graciously patient in the knowledge that they are in process. After all, aren't we too in process? Aren't there things we know and understand now that we didn't know and understand five years ago, two years ago, even two months ago? We are growing just as they are growing. And yes, there are those who may not be growing. Trust God and the guidance of His Spirit as you serve them, too.
Sometimes we will sow in laughter. And sometimes we will sow in tears. But we should be sowing for God's delight and pleasure, not our own. Allow your devotion to Him to ignite in you a zeal for Him. It is through your belief in Him that streams of living water will flow from within you. Do you believe in Him? Do you believe in His presence and purpose in your life? Is your belief in Him such that you can be poured out for the Kingdom with the knowledge that He will take care of you?
We must watch our motives and expectations in serving. We must also be willing to see our own places of unhealed hurts that feed distrust, hypersensitivity, and misdirected expectations. We must take those to the Lord, and in the preciousness of intimacy with Him experience His healing presence.
Look to our gracious Heavenly Father as you sow, even when you must sow in tears. Your sowing is a delight to Him. He sees, He knows, and He rewards.
This is what I am doing today. I am taking heart. I can't wait for encouragement, or hope, or courage to happen to me. I have to take it. So I am taking it. Today! Jesus said that in this world I would have many troubles. So the troubles I face I am choosing to see as the the troubles Jesus spoke about here. And He said to take heart (with an exclamation point!) So not only will I take heart in a minute, or later today, or tomorrow. Right now I am taking heart, too!
My friend, I encourage you to take heart now. In the tunnel, take heart. In the valley, take heart. In the desert, take heart. When that curve ball flies your way, take heart. When your heart breaks, take heart. As the tears roll down your cheeks, take heart. In the face of the unknown, take heart. At the crossroads of life, take heart. For He is good. He has overcome the world. And He is your Sovereign Lord, your Maker. He loves you and He knows the good plans He has for you.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, NIV)