Like a dream come true…
Do you remember the last time you were happy? I mean deliriously happy. So happy that it seemed like a dream – almost too good to be true. I can recall being that happy when I returned home from the hospital in 2011. I had left my house for a quick 10-mile bicycle ride and returned 13 months later driving a motorized wheelchair. (You can check out the details on my webpage under the drop-down menu “My Story”.
I rolled out of the van and was welcomed by a cheering group consisting of family members, friends, and church members. What a happy day to be home at last! It was like a dream fulfilled! I praised God for this great blessing and outpouring of his grace to me!
But that was almost 10 years ago, which seems like a lifetime. It is now difficult to remember the specifics, but it was a great day. My recollection of precise details has faded, but the impression remains vivid.
The author of Psalm 126 describes a similar situation. He reflects on the great blessings of God in the past, applies them to the present, and then anticipates greater future blessings.
Song of Ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
As I said, this song opens with a happy memory of God’s abundant kindness and mercy. When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, his people were delirious – giddy with delight! This blessing seems too good to be true. The occasion for their happiness was the great goodness of the Lord towards his people. It was obvious to God’s people and other witnesses that the Lord has done great things for his people.
God has indeed done great things for us. Take a moment, slow down, and consider the ways that the Lord has greatly blessed you in the past. Praise and thank him for the many demonstrations of his love and care in the past.
Did you notice that this Psalm focuses on God’s people and not individuals? God’s love is poured out on his people, not only individuals. It is easy for us in Western culture to emphasize the individual. The Bible does demonstrate God’s concern for individuals, but there is also a corporate focus, which we often neglect to notice. For instance, the Lord’s Prayer instructs us to pray in the plural. I.e. “Our Father, who is in heaven…” Believers in Jesus are members of his body, the church, and many of the precious promises to which we hold and cherish are made, not only to individuals but also to Christ’s church.
So far, we have looked to the past. But our Psalm shows us how to cry out to God in the present. Verse 4 is a vivid word picture. “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb!”
The author imagines that he is walking in the arid wilderness and comes across a wadi or streambed parched by the blistering desert sun. A sudden downpour precipitates a flash flood that swells the wadi. Water gushes over its banks. The writer envisions a huge, generous outpouring of God’s grace and mercy. This is quite a prayer! It expects great things from our great God!
While we wait for this downpour of promised blessing and kindness, verses 5 and 6 prescribe productive activity and anticipated future bliss. A plentiful harvest is pictured with God’s people returning from their hard work and “bringing their sheaves with them.”
What a striking reminder of old and familiar truths. Past mercies are pictured as “fortunes.” Requests are made expecting raging floods of blessings. Future benefits are anticipated as plentiful prizes and harvests.
So, here is the picture. We make requests – even enormous requests to our ever-faithful God, expect his generous answer, and do our best in the meantime. We cannot just “let go and let God.” We must pray and labor in anticipation of great rewards and blessings.