“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”
While the ancient Israelites were in captivity by the Babylonians, they no doubt recollected on better times, but due to their exiled status, better times were on hold–indefinitely. However, God did a new thing for His chosen people. During the reign of King Cyrus, God turned the tide of the Israelites circumstances. He “stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia” (Ezra 1:1). Cyrus set free a group of Jewish exiles, allowing them to return home. Psalm 126 describes this period of great elation for these ancient Israelites. The author of this psalm rejoiced over a significant event that seemed too good to be true. In fact, the psalmist said it all seemed like a dream. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream” (Psalm 126:1).
Commentator James Limburg describes this time of waiting perfectly. “Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for.”1 What about you? Are you in a period of dry, disappointing times? Do you feel that you’re living between two realms–between a time filled with fond memories, and another time waiting for good times to return again? While in this difficult season, have you taken your distress to the Lord in prayer? Have you asked God, “How long, Lord? How much longer until better times return?
We live in a fast-paced environment. The culture we live in believes in quick fixes, but God is never in a hurry. He ordains our days and the circumstances in our lives for our good and His glory. When burdened by a longing for better times, daily sow the seed of God’s Word into your circumstances. When our minds are soaked with His Word, God enlarges our spiritual perception to better discern our circumstances. Hebrews 4:14 says: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s Word is alive. And it has life-changing power. When we tap into His Word, it imparts power to our weary hearts. The Bible also says it is active; it gives us supernatural strength, to expectantly wait for God to work in our circumstances and see His promises fulfilled. “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). By anticipating God’s promise of strength, we grow in hopeful expectation that God will move in our circumstances and usher in better times.
Those taken into captivity in Babylon were carried away in tears, signaling the start of discouraging circumstances that had no relief for seventy years. Their tears of sorrow became the seeds for a future harvest of joy that would be theirs later. Verse 6 says: “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” God did the extraordinary and ended their bondage, thereby ushering in a new season of joy.
“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb” (v. 4). If God can end a season of drought and provide a year of abundant crops on the dry bed of the region known as Negeb, He is fully able to fill our weary spirits with joy by doing something remarkable for us. Your tears, when prayerfully sowed, are the seeds for your future harvest. “Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves” (v). Sheaves are bundles of wheat tied together. Bringing in the sheaves means bringing in the harvest. God still desires to bless His children with events that astonish us. Like the dry beds of the Negeb, previously barren and void of life, He is able to restore our lives and bring joy out of our most difficult seasons. And move you to the other side of James Limburg’s quote to “another time hoped for.”
Have you experienced something so astonishing that it could only have been from God’s hand? If that’s the case, you can now be like the watercourses of Negeb. You can bring refreshment and encouragement to those still waiting for God to move them into better times. However, if you’re still waiting for God to usher in a season of better times, He knows your longing. He hears your prayers for better days ahead. Lean on Him while trusting Him to do a “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) in your circumstances. The same God who restored the circumstances of the ancient Israelites will restore your circumstances – in His timing and according to His will, which is always in our best interest.
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