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.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
"We were like those who dream." How evocative, how suggestive of someone whose future is now altered from despair to hope. Such is the touch of God in our lives. The Lord restores our lives. The Lord restores what's been lost. The Lord restores fortunes, like the fortunes of Zion. When we experience these kinds of restoration, it's like we can dream again. We can hope again.
And when we can hope again, in a substantial way, then "our mouth [is] filled with laughter." Laughter, joy, delight are natural outcomes of restoration and hope. It's how our bodies respond when we are rejuvenated.
These changes, the psalmist notes, are not private affairs. These changes are noted by the nations. The great work of God among the people of God is for all the world to see. God gets the glory, we get the joy.
What will attract the nations to the living God? Of course nations can be in fear of God. But how are people drawn to God? By displays of greatness, by evidence of beauty and wealth, by signs of happiness and goodness, by actions of grace and healing, and so forth. It is God's marvelous, loving, creative actions that capture the attention of those who do not know God.
I think we can live with this general formula -- God gets the glory, we get the joy.
Let's pray: Father God, in times like these with fear and terror ever present in some areas and present to all of us through the media, we pray for your restoration to expand and deepen; and as your people experience the restoring work in our lives, may the nations take notice, so that they too might turn to another source for their comfort and hope. We declare that you are the Living God and as we anticipate this Sunday, we joyfully confess that you are the God of the Resurrection! May your Resurrection Reality lift us up to a different plane of daily existence. In Jesus' name, amen.