Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

Advent Inspiration from The High Calling: Streams in the Desert and Shouts of Joy

Streams in the Desert and Shouts of Joy

Restore our fortunes, LORD,
     as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
     will harvest with shouts of joy.

Psalm 126:4-5


Where I live in the Texas Hill Country, hundreds of creeks meander
through the oak-covered hills, canyons, and ranches. A few of these
creeks run year round, but most are seasonal. Many of the creeks are, in
fact, dry most of the time. But when torrential rain comes, as it often
does in this part of the world, then the creeks quickly fill with
rushing water, water that often overflows the creek banks.

The streams in the Hill Country are not unlike the wadis in
the desert of Israel, which remain dry except in the rainy seasons.
When the rain comes, these parched creeks are transformed into
life-giving streams that “renew the desert” (126:4). This was exactly
the sort of renewal that the people of God needed after they were
brought back from exile in Babylon. Though they were once again in the
land of promise, their life was anything but perfect. They were
“planting in tears” (126:5). On a literal level, the people struggled to
get the hard ground to produce the food they needed to eat. But,
emotionally and spiritually, the people were also “planting in tears” as
they sought to rebuild their shattered lives.


Sometimes we can feel as if we’re “planting in tears.” We work hard
to raise our children in the Lord, but they wander away from the life of
faith. We labor faithfully in our jobs for many years, only to be laid
off in the latest downsizing. We save for a secure future, yet our
savings shrink as the economy staggers. We try to honor God in our daily
lives, but our sin keeps dragging us down. I expect you have your own
version of “planting in tears.”

Psalm 126 offers the hope that God will renew us like streams in the
desert. It proclaims with confidence that “Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy” (126:5). This harvest comes fully in
the future when the reign of God is established on earth. Thus we look
forward to the day when we will reap the harvest of our lives with
celebration. In the meanwhile, we get to enjoy a taste of the future
even as we wait for the banquet that is yet to come.


On the third Sunday of Advent, we add a new element into this solemn
season of expectation and hope. Today we rejoice because we know that
our hope for a savior was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Moreover, we
know that the tears of this age will one day become overflowing streams
of joy.

as if you are “planting in tears”? What sustains you even when life is
hard? Do you think about the harvest of the future, when there will be
shouts of joy? When do you experience a bit of that joy in your life?

PRAYER: O Lord, the words and images of Psalm 126
touch our hearts. We too need you to restore our fortunes, like streams
in the desert. We need the living water of your Spirit to refresh our
parched souls.


It does seem, Lord, that our planting is often in tears. Our lives
are filled with challenges, discouragements, and frustrations. Sometimes
we are slammed by tragedy. We keep on “planting,” but with plenty of
weeping. Thus we long for the day when you will reign completely, when
our planting in tears will return an abundant harvest. We look forward
to shouting with joy in your presence.

Thank you, gracious Lord, for allowing us to sample a bit of that
future joy even now. Thank you for the reassurance of your Word. Thank
you most of all for our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we prepare to
celebrate in this season of Advent. Amen.



Would you like to receive a Daily Reflection like this one in your email inbox each morning? 

Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God ( You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

  • katie

    I am so glad attention has been brought to this subject. I remember at church when offerings were being taken for mission work etc. There was a very well off gentleman in our city, (not a member of our church), but he was there for this very purpose to contribute monetarily to this work. It hit me, why did nobody tell me, why does no one address the issue of good people, ie Christians, making money to be able to contribute to God’s work. I was always told you can go on a mission trip, be a missionary but never was there any emphasis on making money to fulfill my desire to be able to contribute for others and sponser them on the mission field. Thank you for addressing this.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mark D. Roberts. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration ...

posted 2:09:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Conclusions
In this series on the death of Jesus, I have presented four different perspectives on why Jesus had to die: Roman, Jewish, Jesus’, and Early Christian. I believe that each of these points of view has merit, and that we cannot fully understand ...

posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that ...

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy ...

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with ...

posted 2:30:03am Apr. 07, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.