Scripture: Psalm 126
Key verse: (5) “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.”
Reflection: Recently, I saw pictures from the city of Homs in Syria. This thriving city was home to over one million people. Now it is a bombed out wasteland of destroyed buildings that once were apartments, businesses, hospitals, schools, parks and playgrounds, soccer fields and tree lined streets with outdoor cafes. As I looked at the pictures I wondered if this is what Jerusalem looked like after the Babylonians destroyed it in 567 BCE. Certainly it was a horrible sight back then. Vast numbers of people were slaughtered, the strong were taken as prisoners, the weak, sick and elderly were left to starve to death. Sounds like many places in the Middle East today.
It is difficult to imagine how the city of Homs will ever rebuild. But, one day, if the civil war ends, Homs might be restored to it’s original beauty the way Jerusalem was. If that happens, the displaced population of Homs might experience the same feelings that residents of Jerusalem expressed in today’s psalm. This psalm of ascents was sung by people as they travelled up to Jerusalem for the celebration of religious holy days. It was sung as a reminder of God’s salvation from destruction and loss. When Jerusalem was restored and the people returned it was like a dream. No one thought it could ever happen, but it did.
Have you ever had something happen in your life that turned your entire world upside down? At the time it may have seemed as if all was lost – there was no hope. But, when you were set free from the pain of adversity, did it seem like a dream? Life can feel very surreal when we emerge from suffering. It is such a relief we might burst out laughing with joy. What seemed impossible comes true! If you are exiled somewhere right now because of tragedy or destructive choices, pray that God will restore you. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past and cling to hope for the future. Be patient and know that the God of the captive ones of Zion is with you. One day you will be able to sing again.
Prayer: Lord, be with us in times of exile and times of restoration. If we are unable to shout with joy today, remind us that our weeping won’t last forever. God restores. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].