Today’s guest post, Finding Hope in Times of Transition Psalm 126 part two written by Anthea Kotlan first appeared on antheakotlan.com.
Are you experiencing a time of transition?
- Going back to school
- Going away to college
- Moving across the country
- Getting married
- Losing a parent
- Starting a new job
- Having a baby
- Preparing for a new year
Transitions create opportunities for new routines, new relationships, and new ways of doing things. All those new opportunities have a flipside: endless goodbyes, and letting go.
In 2021, my husband and I were walking through a season of transition as we were called to leave a church community with which we had lived for almost two decades. Seasons of transition involve many goodbyes and some fantastic introductions.
And now, God, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives.
So those who planted their crops in despair will shout “Yes!” at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
(Psalms 126:4-6 The Message)
Psalm 126 is a psalm of ascent and was designed for travel. Psalms of ascent were shared to encourage pilgrims on the yearly journey back to Jerusalem. A few years ago, I traveled with a group to Israel, and we read these psalms of ascent as our bus drove up the steeply rising road to Jerusalem. Even our bus struggled to make its way ever upward. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for families with younger or older members.
This psalm focuses on the story of God’s faithfulness to His people. It tells a story of people reuniting after one group was taken captive and the other was left behind. The following three verses of Psalm 126 (verses 4-6) overflow with joyful celebration and speak about reversals of fortune. Weaved into these verses are some cautions for me to consider.
Verse 4 opens with a request to God, “do it again—bring rains to our drought-stricken lives.”
The idea of an encore performance proves that the author of the text knew that God was capable of fulfilling this request as He had done before. This was more than a simple request for rain, the psalmist begs for a remedy for drought-stricken lives because he knows what God can and will do.
Keep me reminded, Lord, of what you have done and will continue to do in times of transition.
Times of transition make God’s people particularly vulnerable to becoming parched in our souls. Drought-stricken lives have lost hope and have become hardened by disappointment.
The dry ground of my heart can’t germinate even the best seed. A miraculous intervention is needed for two kinds of thirsty people.
- Those who planted crops in despair stayed and found themselves surrounded by uncertainty.
- Those who went off with heavy hearts were taken captive by the enemy. Now, they have returned to their homeland decades later. They are parched beyond measure.
I can relate to both kinds of people.
What does it mean to plant crops in despair?
• Is it the mother who continues to pray for an estranged child?
• Is it an adult child who continues to honor her elderly parent, even when it is emotionally costly?
• Is it the worker who works hard despite a lack of accolades?
How is God calling me to plant seeds in areas of my life that might feel hopeless?
What harvest is He asking me to remain faithful to? Even before the rains come back.
Is a harvest still good and abundant if it doesn’t come in on my timeline?
What if the harvest is not what I expected?
Could it be more of what I need, and not so much what I want?
Keep me planting the seeds you entrusted to me in this season, even when I can’t see the harvest.
How about those captives “who went off with heavy hearts”? How will they come back?
Verse 6 says “they will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.”
How about the times in my life when I am called to go out with a heavy heart? Departing with sadness may happen long before I return with armloads of blessings. Sometimes I have to go, wondering where I will land or what I will find when I get there. Sometimes I am called to go even when I don’t want to.
Keep me on track and instep with you even when the path takes me in another direction, and I’m unclear exactly where we are going.
What about those armloads of blessings? What do I need to put down to have the armload space for those new blessings? If they are measured in armloads, could they be a burden in themselves? Do gifts sometimes take work on my part? Do benefits come in armloads and seem too much sometimes? Do blessings overflow and surprise us with the generosity of God?
Psalm 126 points to the now and not yet. When I see the partial restoration, that could be a sign or reminder of what is yet to come. God is going to do it again and again. He never grows weary of surprising me with abundance.
As a Christ-follower, I have a call on my life to be a hope giver, hope sharer, and a hope speaker. None of which comes naturally to me.
In times of transition, can I choose to do just that?
Keep me open-handed and open-armed in times of transition.
Lord, help me by your power to offer hope for a future, fuller harvest. Can I be found pointing to hope for a more significant and complete restoration? Can you help me in believing in hope for those armloads of blessings to spill over to a broken world? Amen.
How do you see hope in Psalm 126? How could you share that hope today?
For over thirty years, Anthea Kotlan has served as a women’s ministry leader in the church and community. She has a passion for discipleship and encouraging women to walk confidently in their God-given calling. She designs women’s retreats, teaches Bible studies, writes, and enjoys speaking at events. Recently, she began serving on a church plant team in Conroe, Texas with her husband, a bi-vocational priest. Every chance she gets, she spends time laughing with her two adult daughters or snuggling her two grandchildren. Check out Anthea’s blog for weekly soul-tending devotionals from the Psalms. antheakotlan.com
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