Sunday 28 October 2018

Bible Book:

We were like those who dream. (v. 1b)

Psalm 126 Sunday 28 October 2018


Answered prayer comes in a moment. The shift and slide of events come together suddenly. The reality of the hope belongs not to the years of tears and waiting but to that instant. The flash of happening that could only previously be imagined is now real. The people of Israel who had waited in exile for the time of their release could only imagine the reality. Suddenly it was like living in the dreamscape of their desires. The joy of the dream is freedom and answered prayer, the reminder of God’s covenant promise to be their God.

We look at dreams as beautiful, unbidden picture stories that accompany our sleeping. Famously, God uses dreams to communicate his message to Jacob and to his son, Joseph, many years later. In the New Testament, another Joseph in his dream receives word from God to flee to Egypt, later Peter will dream of a sheet full of all kinds of food and Paul will be summoned for help by a man from Macedonia.

Our daydreams can be an idealised playing out of an event, for which we need discernment to grasp the truth of possibility over fantasy or to dispel the cold face of pragmatism for missional risk-taking. Commonly, we speak of a ‘dream job’ or a ‘dream holiday’ referring to an opportunity as ‘a dream come true’.

It was with this joy and a sense of unreality that the psalmist sang of the “restoration of the fortunes of Zion” (v. 1, New International Version). All at once, the prayers are answered and the future opens up. A surprise, like an unexpected gift, bringing delight. So. Much. Joy.

The second half of the psalm remembers all this, but instead of floating like a dream it has the hard edges of tangibility. The hard graft of prayer in which tears are real and a very real carrying of seed that is hard to plant. Again, the praying is in a desert-like place, again the waiting is agony.

The psalmist carries the remembered promise of God’s faithfulness into the present troubles. We can hope because we remember.


To Ponder

  • Consider how the aching hearts and tear-sown prayers of others might have enabled your answered prayers, bringing joy and delight.
  • In what ways are tears and faithful sowing a necessary preparation for future faith?
  • When has God’s joy caught you unawares? “Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev.” (v. 4, NIV)
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