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The sowing & the reaping.



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Depression’s fingers are bony and string-like. She creeps in close to me and touches my chin with the tips of her cold fingers, turning it towards the bedroom door. It’s another tempting lure to go back to bed. I know I need to resist her. 

She’s not here every day. In fact, there are so many days where productivity and victory are the clear frontrunners. But once in a while, she shows up at the door for what appears to be a day trip with her Mary Poppins bag full of lies for me to try on for size:

You’re not doing enough. 

You’re lazy.

None of this really matters.

You might as well go back to bed. 

I turn my head away from her and look out the window. I take a deep breath. I’m surrounded by everything I need to power through this dark fog (or at least feel my way to the edges of it). I clutch the Bible in my lap and close my eyes. I ask God for something, anything, to be the next rung on the ladder that will pull me from this pit. 

And this is what I mean when I say I think God speaks: if you wait long enough, long enough for the junk to exit your brain, a still small voice will emerge. And the voice is always softer than you expect. And the voice is always kinder than your own. I believe this is God. This small voice has given me so many pieces of wisdom I couldn’t conjure on my own that I know with great certainty it’s something other than me talking. 

I sit. I wait. I quiet my mind of all the racing thoughts. 

And then that small voice: 

I’ll give you joy. 

Joy isn’t something you have to muster up. 

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.

That last statement. It’s a verse. A spiritual mentor introduced me to it but it has been years since I last looked it up or applied it, like a fresh coat of sunscreen, to my circumstances.

The verse comes from Psalm 126. It’s the seventh of 15 in a series of songs that people would sing out as they climbed the steps of the temple in Jerusalem. It’s a song of joy, sung by a people group who experienced exile and are now walking in freedom because of God’s redemptive plan. It was one of those “this feels too good to be true but it actually is true” moments and the psalmist took the time to write down the words that would become Psalm 126. 

And then those words, the words I need:

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. 

It paints this picture of someone in a wide-open field sowing seeds. Back and forth. Back and forth. Going up and down the rows, all the while weeping because the desperation in their heart is thick and the need for God to show up is palpable. Their tears are the first form of water these little seeds will ever know.

It is a reminder that joy is coming… Harvest is coming… if we would just keep going, even when it feels like we are simply going through the motions, then in due time we will experience the harvest. The breakthrough. The armloads of blessings. It will not stay this way forever.

I write a note in my journal: 

There is a book to be read… stamps to be bought… an email to be sent… an essay to be written… blogs to be shared… a walk to take. 

It’s a simple to-do list. A reminder to myself that it doesn’t matter if I do each of these tasks with tears in my eyes– with uncertainty hovering over me like a dark, unforgiving cloud– I can still do them. I can still find the small things in my day that need me. I can still show up, even when depression’s shoes are by the door. 

I can take this uncertainty 5 minutes at a time and I can press through with the strength God promises to give me. 

Believe me, I know how threatening the presence of sadness can be in time so as uncertain as this one. I know how helpless you might feel. I also know I cannot walk you out of that place as much as I want to. 

The most useful tip I’ve learned about depression: you should do the exact opposite of what it tells you to do. 

If it tells you to go back to bed, rise up. 

If it tells you to scroll, turn off the phone.

If it tells you to isolate, call a friend.

If it tells you to stay inside and plan a pity party, get outside for a walk. 

There is always one more small thing you can do. One next rung on the ladder. None of your life is on pause just because the rain feels endless. 

And even if you do every task today– from feeding the kids to cleaning your inbox– with tears in your eyes and mascara running down your face, it still counts. God is not asking you to muster up joy, he’s giving you a shelter to hide away in until the rain stops. It could be hours. It could be days. It could be weeks. We don’t know how long this will all go on. But he knows the timing of the harvest. He knows when the clouds will clear. He knows the moment the singing will return as you collect the thick and bundled sheaves of that prayed-for harvest. 

He’s not holding your joy hostage or slipping a house key to depression. 

He’s watching you in all your work. All your small tasks. 

He’s counting your tears. 

He’s whispering assurance to your distraught bones, “Keep sowing. Keep fighting forward. The harvest is coming… the harvest is coming right on time.” 


  1. Jennifer says:

    I love this. I keep coming back to this again and agsin. Thank you for reminding us thst it all matters — all the little seeds, all the little breadcrumbs.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thank You

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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