“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Though God’s people in every age have faced great trials and significant opposition, there is no doubt that “the Lord has done great things for us.” Israel had solid reasons for joyful laughter and even “shouts of joy.”
Even the nations around them were able to see the evidence of the Lord’s favor upon His chosen flock. They said, “The Lord has done great things for them.” God’s worshipers who knew the history of Israel had to agree.
Yet there were other times of critical need when the people of God cried out with sincere petition to Him again. “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb!” Their hope was that their God would notice their honest tears one more time.
Even in the death of loved ones faithful mourners could discover a confident expectation for the future because of Almighty God. The somber practice of burial was a kind of “sowing” of their “seed,” yet with weeping. Though precious bodies were committed to the earth, the survivors could eventually believe that they would one day have “shouts of joy” because a fruitful yield was coming.
The doctrine of the resurrection has always been central to biblical faith. Our assurance of this great truth has been greatly strengthened by the historical accounts of the appearances of the living Jesus after His death on the cross for our sins. Without the fact of our Lord’s resurrection there would have been no good news to proclaim to the world. With it the worshipers of God are able to discover the joy of heavenly gain despite the plain facts of earthly sorrow.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, You have given us laughter and joy in the day of our deliverance. You have done great things for us. Now we have tears, but we will come home to You with shouts of joy. Our labor in Your Name is not in vain.