Between the Times
Between the Times
Was this year especially difficult? Was it a deployment year or a year filled with numerous training missions with a demanding schedule? Or was it a year of financial worries, health issues or concerns over children? It’s no surprise that some years the trials come one after another with no peace in between. Early in my marriage and my husband’s military career, I experienced a very long season without peace. I struggled with infertility. With my husband, Ray underway at sea more than he was home, the years swiftly rolled by. When he was home we resumed infertility treatments, but to no avail. By the sixth year, I could barely muster a laugh. My spirits had hit rock bottom. In desperation, I cried out to God many times, asking, “How long, Lord? How long before a season of better times come again?” It seemed as if I was living between two realms – between a time filled with fond memories of good experiences, and another time waiting and hoping for good times to return again. A new kind of longing settled into my heart – a longing to laugh again.
Psalm 126 describes this concept of living between two realms. In the first three verses, the psalmist is rejoicing over something God did that was so wonderful it seemed like a dream.
Many scholars believe this psalm describes the Israelites when they were set free from their captivity from Babylon. They were so astonished in their new found freedom they sang songs of joy and laughed.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
James Limburg describes this time perfectly. “Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for.” The Israelites reflected on a period in their history where God turned the tide of their circumstances. They had been captives, but King Cyrus freed them. In complete elation, they concluded that only something this good had to be from God. What about you? Can you think of an event that seemed too good to be true? For me, it was the day I learned I was finally pregnant. After six grueling years of on again – off again infertility treatments, the unbelievable happened. It seemed too good to be true! Even my husband, when he called home from the ship was hopeful, but skeptical. Later that year, our son, Lawrence was born. Nothing strengthens our faith more than when we recall former instances of how God ended our season of troubling circumstances and brought better times.
In the second half of Psalm 126 the Israelites find themselves again living “in between the two realms.”
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
The psalmist emphasizes God’s ability to show Himself mighty to usher in a fresh season of good times by using the Negev metaphor. If God can send floods down on the drought stricken beds of the region of Negev, He is fully able to fill our weary spirits with joy by doing something remarkable for us. Does this psalm describe the place you are in right now? Your heart has reflected on some wonderful things God has done for you in the past and now as we enter a new year you could really use something wonderful from God now.
It is in the difficult places, when we’re sowing our sorrow that we must not forget that our present misery will not last forever. In fact, it is just the opposite! It is the means to the end. “If there were no sowing in tears there would be no reaping in joy,” says British Pastor Charles Spurgeon. How can we appreciate a new season of laughter if we’ve never tasted the sting of difficult times? Our tears are the seeds that in God’s time will produce a harvest of joy. Have you ever noticed that a harvest takes time? God doesn’t move any faster just because we live in a world that resists the training ground of difficult seasons. However, when the harvest does come, we’ll find ourselves in “that good time hoped for.”
God is so incredible. He doesn’t do great things for us out of obligation, but because we are His delight! All we have to do is tell God that we trust that He will do something wonderful in our lives again because “…He is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
Lisa Phillips is a retired Navy wife. She and her husband, Ray have been married 25 years. For five years, Lisa led a women’s ministry at her church and facilitated a women’s Bible study. She is a mother of two children. Her daughter, Megan, 24, is serving in the Army National Guard and getting ready to deploy. Her son, Lawrence, 17, is a high school junior. Lisa works alongside her husband in their business in Marysville, Washington as the company bookkeeper/HR/Benefits Administrator, and enjoys writing devotionals and articles on faith. Her web site, www.HisWords2GrowBy.com will launch in early 2013