SCRIPTURE: Psalm 126
A Harvest of Joy
A Song of Ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 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.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
Talitha Arnold writes that “The psalm looks for signs of God’s promise in dark and difficult times. It first finds them in the remembrance of things past, in the joy and the laughter the people knew when God brought them home from exile and even their neighbors acknowledged God’s mighty deeds on their behalf (vv. 1–3). But Psalm 126 is not an exercise in nostalgia. The remembrance of things past has a present purpose. Recalling God’s deliverance long ago leads directly to the call for God to use that same transforming power now.”
Charles M. Wood also shares his observations that “The weeping sowers weep, let us suppose, because they are afraid. They are putting the seed into the ground under quite unpromising circumstances, not knowing what to expect. God will turn their tears to laughter, we might then imagine, not because they have been properly penitent or properly diligent (this is not a fable about ants), nor because they have grown spiritually through adversity, but because they are needy creatures and because God is God.”
Arnold’s words really strike a chord with me, specifically the final sentences, “The remembrance of things past has a present purpose. Recalling God’s deliverance long ago leads directly to the call for God to use that same transforming power now.” I feel that too often we use our remembrance of things of the past as a way to lament about the present, to talk about how great things used to. This would indicate that things are no longer the way they were. But if we fully believe that, then we are saying that God’s deliverance is only in the past and is not active in the present or has future potential. I wonder how our attitudes and perspectives would change for the better if we looked back at past times of deliverance as inspiration and hope for the present and future, carrying confidence in God’s love and grace.
What past memory brings you joy when you are struggling with dark and difficult times? Has the memory that brings you joy changed over time, especially in light of the current pandemic?
God of past, present, and future, we come to you today in search of joy for our hearts during dark and difficult times. We pray that the actions of today would become a joyful memory in the future, even amidst this pandemic. Amen.