Read Psalm 126:1-6
These who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy.
--Psalm 126:6 (NRSV)
Clearing out my father's house after his death was a daunting and depressing task. Packing up my father's personal possessions felt like removing tangible evidence of his existence. I hugged his clothes and caressed his books before donating them to non-profit organizations. Then I opened a closet and saw shelves filled with personal-care items.
I stared at unopened boxes of soap, bottles of shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, packages of razors, and tubes of toothpaste, wondering what to do with them. Then I recalled reading an article in the newspaper about a homeless shelter with an ongoing need for these items, so I contacted the shelter.
That phone call inspired a ministry. I enlisted people in my church to help supply these items. On what would have been my father's 78th birthday, we made the first delivery. The generosity of our church members overwhelmed me as boxes of personal care items were carried into the shelter. God used my grief to spur ministry to those in need; God used my pain to propel me toward a purpose I never would have imagined.
Helping those with needs far greater than my own brought me comfort and healing. I smiled, feeling my sorrow subside when homeless recipients thanked me for the gifts. God taught me that sowing in tears can bring a harvest of joy.
O Lord, help us use our sorrows to sow seeds of faith and those in need. Amen.
Go to devotional.upperroom.org/blog to see a photo of Debra and her father.
Debra Pierce (Massachusetts)