Posted: 11/30/18 at 8:20am. Column by Ed Jordan.
In Psalm 126, the psalmist is addressing the feelings that people had upon returning back to their homeland from exile.
Exile had been a very difficult time for the people of Israel. It had changed most of them forever. After seventy years, God made it possible for them to be freed from their captivity and return home.
In Psalm 126:1–2 (NLT) we read: “When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Have you ever had a similar experience when you were in a very difficult situation for a long time and then suddenly the ordeal was over, and you got to return to a place you loved or a home you loved?
Missionaries living in another country go through this experience periodically. They sometimes long for the familiar, for the comforting experiences that are connected to their former life in their home country.
The group that my family and I served with as missionaries had a general policy that the missionary served three years overseas, and then could return to the U.S. for six months to a year. I remember some of our experiences upon returning.
One was to go to a typical American supermarket and walk the whole length of the wall where the various types and cuts of meats were stored. All I could do was smile. When we lived in Hungary about 20 years ago, one would have to go to several shops to see a variety of meats and cuts like that, so finding them all in one location with such and variety and quality was like a dream.
This past September, we had a similar experience but in reverse. Having been in the U.S. for many years and unable to visit our friends in Hungary, we finally had the opportunity to go back and visit. We had been gone so long, and so much had changed, but it was like a dream to interact with our many friends there and to carry on conversations in Hungarian.
There was laughter, and tears, and hugs, and reminiscing. Driving in Hungary has also changed over the years, as has the size of the trees. We went to look at some of the homes where we had lived, and we could hardly see the buildings because of how much the trees had grown.
We went to a new, large, grocery store, and spent a long time just walking up and down the aisles of meats, especially those filled with diverse types of sausages. We had the same joyful smile on our faces there, as we renewed our dreams there.
The Psalmist is rejoicing in being back home and experiencing something that they had longed for and dreamed about doing for years. He described it as that glazed experience of walking in a dreamland—actually experiencing what you had dreamed of doing for so many years.
God had restored and renewed their friendships and former homes. They used to weep from their sorrow of missing home; now they were laughing and dancing with joy. God had made it all possible and had answered their longings and prayers. Such times are renewing, refreshing, and revitalizing.
The holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, and even though the Thanksgiving Day is technically past, we can still be thankful throughout this season.
What areas of your life has God restored where the restoration has made you joyful and full of laughter? Where are the areas of your life where people who know you are saying, “The Lord has done great things for you?”
What areas of your life still need to be restored or renewed to move you from sorrow to laughter, from longing for to fulfillment of a dream?