Psalm 137:1-6 (the message)
Alongside Babylon’s rivers
we sat on the banks; we cried and cried,
remembering the good old days in Zion.
Alongside the quaking aspens
we stacked our unplayed harps;
That’s where our captors demanded songs,
sarcastic and mocking:
“Sing us a happy Zion song!”
Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song
in this wasteland?
If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
Let my tongue swell and turn black
if I fail to remember you,
If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
to honor you as my greatest.
Have you ever felt like you were living in a wasteland? Have you ever just cried and cried, remembering better days? Like the people of Israel putting aside their harps, have you put aside your hopes and dreams?
The scripture that touched my heart this morning was verse 7: “Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland?” I believe most people have been there; perhaps you are there today. A place where you feel taken, forgotten and lost. A season of life in which you don’t see how you could ever praise God. Maybe you think it hurts too much. Maybe you are just too angry. Perhaps your wasteland is one of your own making even and so you feel too ashamed. And maybe you just don’t know how…
What speaks to my heart this morning in the verses above is how in the midst of their captivity, the mocking of their faith, the grief and loss, the author of this Psalm gives us the answer to that question above. How can we sing God’s song in the wasteland?
Remembering. See, if you go back and read the scripture again you’ll see how the Psalmist basically curses himself if he fails to remember Jeruselam…the holy city. Remembering God, the holy and miraculous ways He has worked in our lives in the past, honors Him. And I believe remembering stirs our hope and our faith in the wasteland seasons.
I might be having a tough day and feeling hurt in a relationship, but if I choose to look back and see how far God has brought that relationship then I can sing God’s song…I can move forward…I don’t have to be stuck. If I feel discouraged as I look at my needs, whether financial, physical or emotional, but I choose to remember all the ways God has met my needs in the past then I can hold on and sing my song to Him. Maybe your wasteland is more than a day or a week…more than hurt feelings or an unmet need. Maybe you grieve a loss…a spouse, a child, a marriage, a dream. Perhaps you really cannot see how you could ever sing God’s song again. May I humbly suggest we still take some time to remember our “Jerusalem.” Remembering may not bring that person back, but it will draw your attention to the God who blessed you with the precious moments you had together. Remembering may not take all the pain away, but it can stir hope in your heart that the God of your “good old days” is still the God of today.
Life is so challenging sometimes because so much of our happiness is drawn from other people and circumstances. I write from the heart this morning. When we are in wasteland seasons as well as the harvest seasons of life when our faith and perseverance have brought us to the others side…we need to remember. See, there really is no joy or peace, no real fulfillment, apart from being near to Jesus. In our deepest pain only He can soothe and comfort us to the core. In our greatest times of answered prayer we discover that it was never the answer to prayer that would bring on our fulfillment…it was always, and will always be, the nearness to the God that answers. Oh I don’t deny that there are very real circumstances in life that need His touch and it most certainly relieves our pain, but I believe that in the midst of it all we may realize there is nothing that touches our lives like being in His presence.
If you are in the wasteland today or on the mountain top…I hope in either your grief or your sigh of relief you will choose to remember Him. Let God remind your heart of the ways He has worked in your life all of your life…let your heart’s hope be renewed that no matter what, you are not alone. And if you are celebrating the harvest of answered prayer be aware of the need that remains for us all…
The need to Remember our Jeruselam…the many places and ways God has rescued and touched our lives…and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.