“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs…How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” Ps 137:1, 2, 4
These were the words of one of the exiles from Jerusalem/Zion while being held captive in Babylon. They were homesick for Zion and their hearts ached with remembrance. This haunting passage makes me remember a time in my life when my harps hung on trees…when life asked for songs but there was no music.
When my daughter was deep in drugs, the morning that should have been her graduation from high school came in with a suffocating and colorless sunrise. There was no beauty that morning, no internal joy and no life resided in me. The ceremony was to be at 2:00 and I had been preparing myself for this day for probably 4 years. As many of our friends were hustling and bustling about preparing for post-graduation ceremonies, I sat brokenhearted at what was not to be and the reality of my daughter’s life. I went on the deck and overlooked the lake, remembering that little girl that used to play in the back yard. I pictured the many children that peppered our back yard at past birthday parties and remembered the haunting echoes of her happy laughter. I remembered the comments of her teachers in elementary school describing a child who exuded joy and happiness. Where had that child gone? At what point did she fade into despair? With her diminished spirit went my joy and my song.
How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? How can we sing when life seems abundant in those around us who are singing…still laughing…still playing their instruments? When there is no song and when our hearts are silent there is a melody that rises in the dark if we lift our voice and bend our knees and ask ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’ Job 35:10-11. When we are too weak to sing and too empty to play, we have the mouthpiece of Jesus to orchestrate the most beautiful symphony ever. He will return joy to our lands and peace to our hearts through His promises. ‘He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.’ Psalm 126:5-6.
If you are sitting by the rivers of remembrance longing for another time in the stillness of sadness, take your heart to God. Allow Him to sing over you and restore your brokenness in the Living Waters of His presence. The very essence of God is love and love will not ignore but will restore.
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