Monday of 3 Lent

Remember what the Lord has done for us – Psalm 126

“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.” 

Psalm 126:1-2

Take a moment and read Psalm 126.

Many years ago I had a wound on the middle finger of my right hand that would not heal.  Every time I bent that finger the wound would open and start to bleed.  Once, while celebrating Eucharist, I bent that finger and it started to bleed.  I had to stop the celebration to deal with the wound.  I asked the congregation to pray that God would quickly heal that injury.  After the service, a well-meaning parishioner told me that if I only had faith, God would have already healed it.  Her comfort was like the comfort of Job’s three friends.  

Whenever difficulties happen to faithful believers, there are those who begin to doubt the calling of God in their life.  In essence they say, “If God were truly with us, these bad things would not have happened.”  And the enemy joins in to discourage the believers.  The exiles returning to Jerusalem met immediate opposition from their neighbors in the surrounding regions.  Ezra records that “The people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose…and they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 4:4-6).  But the Psalmist reminds the people Who it was that called them to this homeland of theirs, and how excited they were to receive that call:  “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”  Throughout the Old Testament the people of God remind themselves of who God is by reciting what He has done for the Jews throughout their history.  And Ezra the priest, Nehemiah the governor, and the psalmists all encourage the people with repeated recollections.  “…[the Lord] saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt and heard their cry at the Red Sea, and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh…” (Nehemiah 9:9).  “In [the Lord] our fathers trusted; they trusted, and [He] delivered them” (Psalm 22:4). “The hand of our God was on us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way” (Ezra 8:31).  We all need to be repeatedly reminded of God’s grace, that “The Lord restored the fortunes of Zion.”

Everyone has moments in his or her life when the Lord has done great things, moments when He is tangibly real, moments when in retrospect it all seems like a dream.  And we hold on to those moments.  Like the Psalmist we remember the Lord’s work in our lives and “Then our mouth is filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.”  But there are those desert moments as well, like the exiles experienced in dealing with opposition to the rebuilding of the city.  Doubt creeps in.  Discouragement becomes the reality of our days.  And despair threatens to take root.  That is the time for us to remember the “goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:12-14).  That is the time to sing His praise.  When the Psalmist said, “My tears have been my food day and night,” he remembers how he “would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival” (Psalm 42:3-5).  It has been a difficult couple of years.  But there has never been a better time for us to remember the goodness of God, and to sing His praise.  Let our “our mouth be filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.”  Remember!

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