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 it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Psalm 126 has been chasing me around this past year. I read it shortly after the COVID shutdowns started in March 2020. Our church had just stopped meeting in person on Sundays. I was the music ministry leader, and I made a mental note to remember this passage for when we started meeting again. Once things got back to normal, I thought, that first Sunday back would indeed feel like a dream, with good cause to rejoice.
Three months later our church’s insistence on a mask-optional reopening was the last straw in a multi-year struggle over whether to stay. I resigned from my music ministry duties and let the pastor know we’d be looking for a new church once things reopened.
It’s now January 2021 and we’re still waiting.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
This past summer a friend invited us to join their church group’s Zoom meetings. They’ve been a godsend this year — a regular time of discussion, prayer, and Bible study with some likeminded people. It’s not the same as a local in-person meeting, but I’m already anticipating the loss when they start meeting in person again and the Zoom is no longer available to us.
2020 was hard for lots of reasons, in lots of ways; some of them public, some personal. One Monday last month during Advent, the pastor of our online group had us read this psalm. It felt different. There’s still a lot of going out weeping, a lot of sowing tears. We’re still in verses 4 and 5. Searching for hope, praying for joy on the other side of all this sadness. It’s January. The days are short and cold. I always feel fragile in January; this year even more so.
At this point in a post like this there are traditionally some words of hope, something about spring coming and things getting better. But I don’t really have those words in my heart today.
I’m thankful there’s still a verse left in the psalm.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.