There are times I feel overwhelmed.
Lost to anything good,
Drowning in fear.
Floundering in guilt and shame for falling so low,
I drink the cup of tears, with no end.
How will I ever live again?
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
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.
Psalm 126 is about gratitude and joy of the redeemed. In verses 5-6 the magnitude of this joy is shown by wildly swinging contrasts:
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
A similar scene of contrast happens at Simon’s home when a sinful woman bursts in to anoint Jesus’ feet with tears and perfume (Luke 7:36-50).
I find my own joy and love for Jesus pretty puny, similar to Simon’s. There isn’t much contrast making my picture lifeless and ordinary. So I return to Psalm 126 to meditate upon what God has done for me and I begin to sing the song of joy.
The photograph of tree trunks is joyous because of the contrast. It is the same with life.
There are times in life that it hurts as we are get thrown around by tragedy and various trials. Hardly the the life we envisioned in our walk with Jesus. Hitting upon rocks as we hurtle out of control, not understanding the whys. All we can do is trust that God knows our way and in the end will make something beautiful.
Jesus proclaimed that He was the fulfillment of this prophecy (Isaiah 61).
“…to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
The surprising beauty God brings out of water thrown against rock.
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8, 1 Peter 1:24-25)
This is a reminder for some, but for those suffering various trials it is a blessed hope.
Read further about this amazing hope in the first chapter of 1 Peter.
Tweedy’s lewisia is a wildflower that grows in the cleft of rocks, thus the common name, Rockrose. Such beauty springing from granite is remarkable.
God’s grace is similar, it makes beauty where there was nothing but wasteland (read all about it in Isaiah 35).
“The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy….
Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
‘Be strong, do not fear;…’
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert….
and the ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
To get the full impact, I encourage you to read and meditate on the complete chapter in your Bible.
O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
This morning I woke up at 3 AM chased by a nightmare. The dread of my thoughts kept me from falling back asleep. So I tried to pray, but the nightmare kept interfering. Finally in desperation I resorted to reciting “The Lord’s Prayer.”
“Our Father… my Father… my loving Father, hallowed be Thy name.” Yes, the name of Jesus, like a breath of fresh air, began to push my nightmare aside, for holiness does not tolerate the unholy. “Thy kingdom come,” a kingdom of rightness, and goodness, the thought of which makes me rejoice and desire its coming. “Thy will be done, on earth (here and now in me in triumph over my ugly thoughts) as it is in heaven.” How wonderful to know He will impress upon me, and my life, His good and perfect will (blessed are those who hunger and thirst for rightness for they shall be satisfied). As I prayed this for myself, I also prayed this for my family, my church, and my friends. It was at this point I could see clearly that my thoughts set the stage for this day, by either allowing them to drag me into dark ugly places or through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit to behold the beauty of the Lord and worship Him in His temple.
I cannot control my nightmares, but I can ask Jesus to push them away and fill me with His goodness. He even gave me a prayer for that very purpose.