There’s been a lot of horrible news lately- in fact, some are calling this past August the worst month ever. Just this past weekend even more bad news circulated; this time it was a group of teenagers in Memphis, beating up innocent victims in a grocery store parking lot. The whole event was captured in a video that has gone viral and left many Christians in Memphis crying over their city.
Over at The Gospel Coalition, Mary Wilson writes about this incident and the question that it raises: “Is there any hope for this city?” With so much hatred, violence and brokenness not only in Memphis but in cities across America and around the world, is there any hope?
Mary thinks so. She quotes Psalm 126, which says in part: “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.” What does this picture of sowing in tears tell us about God’s plan for redemption, in even our most trouble cities?
It tells us our tears aren’t wasted. As Christians, it’s hard to watch the cities and communities we live in fall into corruption and despair, particularly the more we invest in spreading the gospel. (In fact, if you don’t feel a burdened heart for the city or community you’re a part of, that’s a good indication that you need to spend more time sharing the good news of Christ within your city). Weeping on the behalf of others and “sowing” tears in intercession is a natural response to wickedness. We only have to look at Christ to see the value in shedding tears. As Mary explains:
“Although Psalm 126 proclaims good news for all God’s people, the unique experience of Jesus Christ fully illustrates the realities of God’s economy. More than courageous Esther, Jesus sowed in tears of intercession by making appeals for our sake (Heb. 5:7-8). More than the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, Jesus sowed in tears of bitter grief and sweet compassion (John 11:35)…Through Christ’s ministry of tears, we can anticipate that everlasting harvest festival in the new heavens and new earth where peace will reign and where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.”
In Matthew, Jesus tells us the parable of the weeds. In this parable, a man sowed good seed in a field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among all the good seed. So the good seed grew up together with the bad weeds. The sower told his servants to let both grow together until harvest, at which time they would be separated out- the good wheat brought into the farmer’s barn while the weeds burned.
Jesus later explains to his disciples that he is the sower (Matthew 13:37). He is the patient farmer who tenderly, lovingly sowed a harvest of righteousness. Later, he would look upon the city he had tended to and weep over the “weeds” that had turned a blind eye to his words and work (Luke 19:41-42).
But after weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus did a wonderful thing—he went back into it. The city that would only lead him to death, he willingly went back to and continued to sow the good news of the gospel until he was eventually brought to a bogus trial and later crucified in innocence.
His death is our victory and our hope when we look over our own cities and weep at the wretchedness within them. We are living in the “already but not yet”- our time in God’s redemption story means we can look back at the justifying work Jesus did for us on the cross and then look forward in hope that his work will be carried to completion the day he returns.
And what a glorious day that will be! Revelation 21 tells us that God will restore everything to perfection. When he comes back, he is bringing his Holy City, the new Jerusalem, with him. This Holy City will be God’s dwelling place, and ours as well. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more mourning, no more pain. There will be no more tears in Memphis.
In the meantime, Mary writes, “we sow in tears. We open our hearts to the pain and brokenness of this world. And we bear witness to the One who has himself sown in tears. When we look to Christ, we have firm confidence in the productivity of our tears sown in God’s fields. In other words, when we lament—when we grieve as God grieves—we take redemptive action. Amid all the other actions we take, we must take the action of weeping. One vital sign of hope for the city of Memphis is that last weekend many Christians cried.”
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.