Spring has finally sprung. Tired of the dark, cold days of winter, I drove to a light-filled Starbucks with a view of the mountains and settled in with a summery drink: Passion Tea Lemonade. I hadn’t one in years and I was immediately thrown back 13 years to my own days working at Starbucks. Tommy and I were preparing to get married. We would soon be living in a tiny hole of a basement apartment, getting by on a shoestring. And what joy. Days filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope! As I think back to those early days, I cannot help but smile to myself at the sweetness.
In Psalm 126, the Psalmist is calling to mind days of old, days that were marked by joy and celebration. The Lord was near and acting on their behalf in mighty ways. They could not help but laugh and sing in gratitude for God’s faithfulness.
In vs. 4, the Psalm shifts. “Restore our fortunes, Lord.” Something has changed. Tears have replaced songs of joy. Weeping in place of praise. The Psalmist might be referencing the long exile Israel endured for their sins, or perhaps the return from exile to the barren wasteland that was once their home. In subsequent generations, Israelites would have song this psalm of ascent as they journeying toward Jerusalem for annual festivals. I imagine their hearts leaping with joy when they catch a glimpse of the Temple…and their stomach dropping at seeing the banners of Rome waving from the city walls. They persist in their songs, remembering God’s former radical acts of redemption and restoration, and they wait. They wait for God to act once again.
We too know what it is to wait for restoration, to hope against hope for redemption. It is tempting to look back at the “good ol’ days” when God felt close and the path ahead seemed so clear. But, the good ol’ days are not idols to be worshipped but testimonies to fuel the faith of today. We may have a mixed view ahead, holy temple spires and Roman flags, but we sing. We sing with courage and hope and trust the promise, that “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
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Grace and Peace.