returning from exile

Sam Francis, “The Overyellow”

fifth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 126

Ecstatic joy: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” Imagine what it must have been like for the Jews to have inhabited a beautiful country, to be exiled, but then after 70 years, to return. Subsequently this joy waned: “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.” The hope of the Psalmist is that if a reversal of fortune happened once, it could happen again: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

As an American, I can’t help but think about my own country in this context. We had the joy of being a people who could start anew. Yet now, 230 years later, despite profound blessings from God, we seem fractured within, and despised without. Oh that our country would find its way back into God’s favor, so that as a nation, we could laugh again.

I don’t know the fate of my country. I’ll do my best to point the direction to joy from a patriotic standpoint. Yet for the true people of God, reversal of fortune is inevitable, because it has already occurred at the cross. We are not yet in paradise, but we are already home in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. May the souls of God’s people sing for joy today.

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