Tears of Suffering

February 11, 2022

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death. He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we suffer to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible. Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be, but the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine Vineyard keeper. He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our lives are yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside operating theaters in hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches. God does not waste our sorrows, and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


God Comforts Us (in times of suffering!)

June 1, 2021

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can experience in this lifetime.

As a pastor I have frequently heard people say that God met them in a supernatural and intimate way while they were going through a medical crisis.Two weeks ago a man for whom I’ve been praying for twenty years wrote from another part of the country to say he has come to faith. God gave him that absolute assurance while he was undergoing a critical life-threatening surgery.

Many of us have known people we loved who are depressed and oppressed.They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort. Comfort me in my pain, and when I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me. I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


FACING SUFFERING WITH #FAITH

October 27, 2020

 “…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)

Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?

If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#FAITH +The Seminary of Suffering+

July 21, 2020

“…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness… through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report… beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing… having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

Paul tells us suffering is like a seminary in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel. There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we become ministers of God. When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be. Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers? Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”

I call these adversities “wringers.” When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, Paul tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers for You in this world, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


#Faith and the Tears of Suffering

February 11, 2020

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death. He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we suffer to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible. Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be, but the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine Vineyard keeper. He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our lives are yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside operating theaters in hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches. God does not waste our sorrows, and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


SUFFERING: PERSEVERANCE, CHARACTER & HOPE

October 20, 2017

Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that Paul is saying essentially this: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character. When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. While visiting missionaries on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, I learned that one of the most important abilities for missionaries is stickability. Can you go to a foreign culture, and stay for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years?  Can you live out your life there as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?

Most missionary work is living Christ until the people you desire to reach “see Christ in your mortal flesh,” to borrow the words of one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


God’s Comfort in Our Suffering

July 14, 2017

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort.  For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us.

There is a supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in knowing God. God does not want us to go through life and never discover that God is there for us and will comfort us. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can possibly experience in this life.

Many of us have known people we loved who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this great discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort.  Comfort me in my pain. When I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me.  I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


Seeds of Suffering

July 19, 2016

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient inspired hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death.  He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we are suffering to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible.  Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be.  It is rather the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine vineyard keeper.  He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our life is yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside the operating theaters of our hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches.  God does not waste our sorrows and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


Seeds of Suffering

February 15, 2013

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient inspired hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death.  He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we are suffering to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing and bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible.  Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be.  It is rather the cutback of our heavenly Father who is like a divine Vineyard keeper.  He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our life is yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people while they are in the waiting rooms outside the operating theaters of our hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches.  God does not waste our sorrows and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.


Another Reason for Suffering

August 5, 2011

 “…  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces…”   (Romans 5: 2, 3)

When Paul writes his theological masterpiece to the believers in Rome, he states that God has given us access by faith into all the grace we need to live a life that glorifies Him as we stand for Him in this world.  When he wrote to the Corinthians he declared: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).  That is the most superlative verse in the New Testament regarding the grace God has made available to authentic believers.

Can you and I imagine how God must feel when He knows how much grace He has made available to us as He observes us moving through our life in Christ without implementing that grace?  In these wonderful verses Paul was telling us that we should rejoice in our sufferings because they force us to access the wonderful grace of which he was writing to the Romans and the Corinthians.  In this context suffering produces.

One of my favorite mentors wrote that sometimes when we read verses like this we must allow the thought that God oversold the product in the New Testament.  God has not oversold grace.  We simply do not know how to access that grace. As you rejoice in your salvation, are you also willing to rejoice in your sufferings as they force you to access the grace of God?