We Were Like Those Who Dreamed
Throughout my pastoral career, I've had scores of conversations with people who find themselves in grey and difficult seasons of life, and can't seem to see an end to them. I've been there, too.
There have been times in my life when the darkness seemed like it was never going to break. One particular season felt biblical--like I was an exile or a wanderer in the wilderness. I couldn't even imagine a day when things would be better. I knew that God was at work in my life, but I didn't feel it, all that much.
But the light did dawn. The end of that season of wandering did come at last. And I was finally able to look back on it with new eyes, and a new understanding of God's presence.
This morning my Advent reading came from one of my favorite Psalms:
"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.'" (Psalm 126:1-2)
The phrase that always stands out for me is: "we were like those who dreamed..." I have always loved that line, and this Psalm. Psalm 126 is a post-exilic psalm--a song created out of the joy that came from a people who were returning to their homeland after a long exile in a foreign land.
It stands in contrast with Psalm 137, which speaks into the heartbreak and uncertainty of the exile itself. The first line of Psalm 137 reads:
"By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!' How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?" (Psalm 137:1-4)
Two different songs, for two different seasons. One song speaks of new beginnings, of dreams coming true, of joy, laughter and transformation. The other song speaks of pain, longing, fear and uncertainty.
And both songs are part of the journey of the People of God.
If you are in a season of exile today, I urge you to allow yourself to feel that pain, to sing that song of wandering. It's a song that won't last forever, but it's part of the person God is fashioning for God's glory. One day the light will dawn, the wandering will end, and you will sing a different song, I assure you.
May you lean heavily on the truth of God's promises today. May you know in your heart of hearts that seasons of darkness never last, and that God is faithful and good--all the time. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.