“O Lᴏʀᴅ, restore our well-being,
just as the streams in the arid south are replenished.
Those who shed tears as they plant
will shout for joy when they reap the harvest.
The one who weeps as he walks along, carrying his bag of seed,
will certainly come in with a shout of joy, carrying his sheaves of grain.” – Psalm 126:4–6
One of my favorite parts of the Advent season is the time spent remembering. I find myself using the month of December and the weeks leading up to Christmas in a rather constant state of reflection. As the year comes to a close, I think back on all that has happened in the previous eleven months. As Christmas draws near, I recall favorite holiday moments from years past, meaningful gifts, and traditions that bring me joy.
This intentional act of remembering is how today’s Psalm begins. Psalm 126 is part of the series of psalms called the “Song of Ascents” (Psalm 120–134), and although scholars disagree on exactly when and why these were used, their structure and overall joyful tone lead most to believe they were celebration songs of some sort. Psalm126, specifically, is still traditionally used by the Jewish people after meals and to celebrate holidays because of its two main themes: joy and redemption.
When we’re in the midst of waiting, remembering times of joy might not be the first thing we think to do to pass the time. I usually find myself alternating between doing everything in my power to be patient, growing bored and restless, and then trying to figure out if there is something I can do to speed things up. I’ll give you one guess how well any of that has ever worked out for me!
But imagine how much better the waiting would be if we spent our time reflecting on joy. We could relive the moments when God surprised us so much that we couldn’t help but laugh. We could share stories of times when our joy was only possible because of something God had done and the impact it made on those around us. We could spend our waiting giving God the glory and the credit for all that He has done in our lives, even as we pray and trust Him to do it again.
God loves His people, and He will keep His promises. God will restore. He will bring joy to those who mourn. There will be a time of harvest for those who are patiently and lovingly sowing. Those shouts of joy are not just found in the past, in the things God has already done. They are promised to us, too, found in what God is doing right now and what He will do in the future.
As we wait, for Christmas and for Christ’s return, may we keep our eyes focused on the One who has brought us joy, the One who is our joy, and the One who promises joy and restoration for His people. The gift of joy this Advent season won’t be found wrapped in shiny paper or at the end of a long list of holiday traditions. Our joy comes from the Lord—and He has promised it to us!
Week 3 Challenge:
Joy is approaching. This week, we focus on faithfully waiting for the return of Christ. His Second Coming will heal our brokenness and make everything new. He is the God who restores. What do you need God to restore in this season of your life? How will you wait expectantly and with joy as you prepare for Him to do this?
Week 3 Reading Plan
Week 3 Memory Verse
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