I've always liked Psalm 126 after watching a simulcast where Beth Moore talked about it, but this morning, I woke up with the verse running through my head. I had to get my thoughts out.
Psalm 126: 1-3, 5
When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; We are filled with joy! Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.
Whoever wrote this Psalm was one of the people who had been held captive in Babylon for 70 years. These were the years that Daniel faced the lion's den and Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had spent some time in the fiery furnace. Their people had been taken from their homes and they had every reason to come home angry. Many of them had lost loved ones in Babylon and some had been born there, never knowing their true homeland. They could have come home depressed, angry and filled with bitterness. They probably would have been justified but they didn't. They came home jubilant. They were laughing and dancing. They were singing and shouting. People among the nations heard about them and spoke of God's goodness. If they'd come home ready to go back and get revenge, how would that story have ended differently? They surely wouldn't have impacted those around them in the same way. The nations wouldn't be buzzing with talk of this God who had done "great things" for the Israelites.
The same goes for us. When we go through hard, sucky things, it's totally understandable to be bitter and angry. We don't deserve it. We might even be mad at God. That's okay. He's big enough to take it, but don't stay there. It's a painful place to live. Make it a waypoint on your journey to healing if need be, don't make it your residence. At some point in your game of life you get to a fork in the road. Do you choose joy or do you choose anger as your path? The life choices you make determine your final destination. Even if you choose joy, you will have bad days. You'll still be angry and sad on occasion. Jealous and bitter at times. Those feelings don't just disappear because you choose to be happy. You must decide you don't want to camp there; you're just passing through.
Many people who have gone through really hard times end up angry and empty. It's really the expectation. When we return with joyful shouting, with our tongues full of laughter, we are the ones of whom the nations take notice. They will say of us, "The Lord has done great things for you!" and we will be filled with joy. We will sow in tears but we will reap with songs of joy!