Wednesday of the Week of Advent III
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Psalm 126)
In his introductions to the psalms mentioned previously, Luther writes, “The 126th is a psalm of thanks for the deliverance from the captivity in Babylon. Whether it was made following that captivity or prior to it (as a prophecy for the comfort and hope for the coming deliverance, so that they may not despair) is of no concern. At the end the psalmist concludes that it happens — and always happens — to the saints that they first suffer before they can rejoice. Therefore, the saints sow with tears to reap afterward with joy.”
It is a painful thing to know that during the season of Advent and Christmas, while many are singing songs of gladness and joy, others are weeping tears of sorrow and struggle. We dare not mute the rejoicing at the birth of Christ, neither should we ignore the tears of those who weep. Life is full of pain and grief, just as there is laughter and joy. The two are necessary to our existence as disciples and followers of Jesus — “saints,” as Luther calls us. And the two are necessary, for without the one we cannot fully experience the other. A life of only laughter, joy and gladness might soon become empty without the storms that one day break forth into sun!
Luther spoke of this from personal experience. He knew what it was to suffer at the hands of his enemies, knew what it was to struggle with a dark night of the soul, knew what it was to lose a child. His trials in life took a toll on him emotionally and physically. For all of that, we can say, “The Lord did great things for Martin Luther!” He knew joy and laughter in the midst of tears and grief.
This is true for all of us, “saints” redeemed by Christ. We sow with tears to reap afterward with joy. We remember the great things the Lord has done for us, which carries us through to joy, again.
Prayer: Restore those, O Lord, who are weeping tears of grief, loss and struggle. Amen.
Advent Action: Send an unexpected Christmas card to someone who is grieving.