Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Psalm 126 (NRSV)
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
How beautiful it is to “return with songs of joy!” Likely written after the Israelites’ return from Babylonian captivity, this psalm lifts up gratitude to God and hope for the future. Infused with elation, this text captures how we feel when things go well for us! I will admit, however, I can’t imagine wanting to read this passage when I am stressed out or enduring sadness. It might not feel appropriate to sing about the great things the Lord has done when the news reporters on TV tell us about acts of religious prejudice or racial discrimination or gender-based violence.
Like the Israelites, there are moments in which we yearn for a type of restoration. This psalm reminds us, though, that even in the times when we aren’t able to offer up songs of joyful praise, the struggle doesn’t last forever. Even “those who go out weeping” experience a new hope, and even those who “sow with their tears” are met with a new joy after a season of labor. I think this psalm is telling us that though periods of suffering do exist, they will not persist. Joy and love will have the last word.
Wondrous Maker of heaven and earth, we cry out to you with joy and we cry out to you with sorrow. Thank you, God, for the promise in your son Jesus. It is because of you that we know full well that the worst things are never the last things, and that light overcomes darkness. We ask you for strength, that we may walk forward into our world with the hope of the Advent. In your name we pray, Amen.
Go with God!