“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” Psalms 126:5 NRSV
It is believed Psalm 126 was written during the time of the return of Israel after the exile. A joyful song of praise sung by pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem. You can imagine the thrill of the people scattered from their native land for years as the sight of the city set on a hill comes into view. In their gratitude to God for their deliverance, they burst into this song.
'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.'
While we haven’t been exiled from our country physically this year, don’t we feel a little like the children of Israel? We have suffered losses of freedoms. We have not been able to visit those we love. We have not been able to grieve for those we have lost like we usually would. Our emotional, mental, and financial well-being has been challenged.
Today’s verse is a beautiful message of hope what we have sown in fear this past year. All those things that we have lost and sacrificed; from them, we will reap joy. While we do not know when or how this particular suffering will end, we wait with hope this advent season for God’s restoration and deliverance. We wait with much anticipation for the end of this pandemic but, more importantly, the coming of the Messiah. We rejoice and proclaim the awesomeness of God as we look toward the kingdom ahead.
I offer the following poem as the prayer:
Planting (A Reflection on Psalm 126)
The fertile soil awaits,
its barren womb is crying out.
The mustard seed,
Is sown in hope.
Earth, sun, and rain nurture.
The seed takes root.
We wait anxiously,
For shoots to appear.
A first, a small stirring in the soil,
The tiny shoot reaches upward.
We rejoice in its arrival.
It matures, bearing fruit.
The waiting is over.
Time for reaping
Shouts of joy in the bounty.