In a world where heartbreak and despair often seem to have the upper hand, Psalm 126 is a beacon of hope. It reminds us of God's power to restore, to turn our mourning into dancing, and our tears into joy.
Psalm 126 — The Joy of Restoration — Aneel Aranha
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs 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 are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Have you ever "woken" from a beautiful dream and realized, to your astonishment, that it wasn't a dream at all? It was all real! This is what Psalm 126 feels like. It's a psalm that captures the delight of a people who've experienced God's restoration. It begins: "When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed" (Psalm 126:1). However, why does the psalmist say this?
A little history. As you undoubtedly know, the Israelites spent a long time in exile when hope seemed lost, and their identity was in jeopardy. But then, in an act of divine intervention, they were brought back to their homeland. Their delight was so profound that they sang, "The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy" (Psalm 126:3).
That's what restoration does: fill us with joy. Jesus' ministry was all about restoration. Jesus restored sight to the blind, health to the sick, and even life to the dead. But more than this, he restored our broken relationship with God. Through his death and resurrection, he paved the way for spiritual restoration. Isn't that a reason for joy?
There's a lovely moment during his ministry where Jesus encounters a woman who has lived a sinful life. After she displays a profound act of repentance and love, Jesus tells her, "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48). Here, we see a personal, intimate restoration. Much like the Israelites', the woman's joy must have been overwhelming.
Returning to Psalm 126, the latter part contains a prayer for continued restoration, indicating that while the initial return from exile was a time of great joy, there were still challenges ahead for the people of Israel. However, even here, there is hope. The psalmist sings, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:5).
Those of us who believe in Christ are restored. However, our journey is far from over, and it can sometimes be painful, even miserable. Let us keep in mind the grand promise that can be found in the Book of Revelation, which says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Like Psalm 126, it's a beautiful reminder that our moments of sorrow, our "tearful sowing," are not in vain. There's a harvest of joy awaiting us.
God bless you.