Friday, January 12, 2007
Maintaining a heart of gratitude
Maintaining a heart of gratitude
Though they have to start their lives again from scratches they are happy that God has brought them back. Maintaining a heart of gratitude even in difficult times is important to please God.
Psalm 126 illustrates the importance of maintaining a grateful heart even in difficult times. The psalmist(s) is excited about what God has done and hope that God will continue to be with them. Though what God has done for them actually has landed them in difficulties, they are still thankful; they believe that eventually everything will work out for their good.
The God of Israel had done a great thing by bringing his people back to their land from where they were exiled. However, it took more than sixty-five years for the first exile to return. Leaders like Zerubabbel, Nehemiah, Ezra and others led people back in different waves of return. The man who was captured and sent to exile when he was thirty is now 95 years old at least. The baby who was just born is now 65 and his parents are already dead. Some people have stayed behind in Israel and Judah. They had built houses and cultivated the lands of those who were taken captives. It has been theirs for about two generations now. In fact, those who came back are losers in one sense. They were nostalgic about the return, but they are now aliens in their own land.
Psalm 126, probably reflects such a historical situation. The sorrows and the struggles of the returnees are reflected in this psalm. It is good to be in ones own land. It is a sign that God has forgiven them and is faithful to the promises and covenants that he has made with their ancestors. However, now they are strangers in the land that was their home.
However, they will not complain about it. They look back to their coming back with great enthusiasm. It was so exciting to be real. They thought it was all a dream (Psalm 126:1). They were so joyful and happy (Psalm 126:2). However, they are in a situation now where they are in tears and have to go about weeping. Still they will not complain. They will just make a quick prayer to God to "restore our fortunes" (verse 4) and go to work hoping in him. Their hope is that God will trade their sorrows for joy. The imagery of farmers who in their desperate attempt to produce some food in times of famine, throw their last seeds to their ground and return home singing carrying a good harvest motivates every returnee. They won't waste complaining to God for landing them in such an unsettled situation while they were leading much more settled lives with houses and vineyards, etc in Babylon. Though they have to start their lives again from scratches they are happy that God has brought them back. Maintaining a heart of gratitude even in difficult times is important to please God.
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