A Song of Harvest
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.
Sometimes (most times?), especially when we’re thinking of God, our lives seem to be in a bad place. At this point, we are often reminded of our disobedience, of how we’ve fallen short and are now reaping the consequences of what we’ve sewn. This seems prophetic, insofar as the prophets always seem to be calling down woe and judgment as a result of the people’s sin and bad actions. Falling away from God leads to a myriad of social and political problems, it seems, and living through those problems is the consequence of falling away from God. You get what you give, you reap what you sow.
But is this the real message of the prophetic books? While the prophets do pile woe upon woe, and judgment upon judgment, they end (almost always) with a note of redemption. Sometimes brief, sometimes longer, the end is redemption and restoration.
Psalm 126 doubles this; it not only ends with redemption, it starts there. Remembering the joy and exultation we felt when God rescued and redeemed us, the songs we sang when we were bursting with happiness because our life was going right, we are then turned back to our current situation, in need (again) of restoration. By beginning with restoration and joy, we can look anew at our current situation and see what we otherwise could never see: we reap, not to sow in kind, but in hopes of a miracle: “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” In God’s time, we do not reap what we sow; rather, we reap what God provides.
When life gets low, do we start from our own sin and disobedience—or by recalling our restoration? Is our current life the harvest of our earlier work—or is it merely seed that, somehow, by God’s miraculous grace, will become a harvest wholly unlike what was sown? God’s stories, like Psalm 126, don’t just end with restoration—they begin there too.
You brought everything into existence. You gave us everything we need to know and worship you. You surrounded us with brothers and sisters in Christ, and let us fill this earth with our songs. Remind us, Lord, that everything we have begins in you, and that while we may see a great deal of sorrow and lamentation around us now, you will restore us so we can again sing songs of joy.
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