The bathroom had become my closest companion. A dark, crisp place of refuge I would retreat to when the sorrow inside of my soul became too much to keep hidden from the outside world. I would lock the door behind me and slink my spine down the wall to the floor, curling in upon myself as a snail recoiling from a salty finger. There in the blackened room, I sat—off the radar of friends and family who might attempt to retrieve me.
The Loneliness of Rock Bottom
The loneliness of rock bottom teased with accusations about divine abandonment had enticed me into its sorrowful seclusion. I could not sense God’s presence, and while I knew he could see me in my misery, I wondered why He wouldn’t help. Perhaps I fell off his radar as well?
Jesus and I had enjoyed such enthralling fellowship, but this particular rock bottom seemed to permit no visitors. When all I wanted was a comfort from my God, all I received was empty echoes of a cry He stalled to answer. God, don’t you hear me?
As hurt and sorrow commiserated together, I fell heavy as a broken boulder from on high, tumbling down into a forgotten gorge of hopelessness. For weeks, life hardly seemed worth living. I’d imagine falling out of a moving car, or what it would look like to simply melt into the meadows, embraced by sun-kissed grasses and taken into the ground. Rock bottom came with a demon designed to persuade me that Christ was unwilling to come close in my pitiful condition.
God’s Sustaining Grace
Yet even in this place of despair, a mustard seed of faith somehow stood firm. When 99% of my flesh and soul were not comforted by Scripture’s consolations of hope, 1% remained rooted in hallow ground tilled by the Holy Spirit himself. I cannot account for my eventual revival from rock bottom apart from God’s sustaining grace—a grace so faithful and true to those who constantly dare to doubt it.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6 ESV
Psalm 126 is a song of hope for those held captive by present sorrows and dire affliction. It encourages those who walk with weighted steps to wait expectantly for their God. There is a special promise for those who shed tears in desperate places—the sorrow will not endure forever. God will restore us once more, and our joy will be made all the greater for having endured the tribulation by faith. When rock bottom feels like the end of us, we can trust that Christ will hold us fast—for “with him is plentiful redemption” (Psalm 130:7).
For seeds of sorrow to become sheaves of joy, time must pass in between. Just as a farmer plants seeds in the spring and harvests crops in the fall, so too must we fling our mustard seeds of faith onto the soil and trust that God will do what is necessary to bring about sheaves of spiritual bounty. Therefore, we water the seeds with our tears. We endure the sorrows while the roots of faith are divinely nourished underground. We sit our bottoms on the Rock of Ages and trust that our hope is not dependent upon us, but anchored in the One who is making our desert like a garden of the Lord (Isaiah 51:3). And just when we wonder if anything is happening at all, sprouts begin to appear. The ground breaks, and the stalks rise, and we know the weeping which led to the watering was not in vain.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote,
“When there is no joy in the present, you can know that there is infinite joy in the future.”
Infinite joy is on the horizon because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. We who are found in him will also be raised with him. This promise is not contingent upon our moods or weeping—Christ alone qualifies us into eternal life, where the seeds that were sowed in tears will find a most bountiful harvest! The truth of the resurrection is the ultimate infinite hope of utterly finite people. Spurgeon continues,
“we wait with patience, constancy, desire, and submission. The joy is sure to come; we have no doubt about it.”
The many tears I cried in the bathroom have multiplied into spiritual sheaves I’ve unwrapped over the years. While I would not wish upon anyone to endure the sorrows I felt during that time, I can bear witness that Psalm 126 is not only true for God’s people as a nation, but is especially and personally true for those who wrestle with sorrow and grief. The tears we cry today will reap a joyful harvest in due time—so we take heart, remember our hope, and wait for the seasons of change.