“Life is full of light and shadow”, the DavidCrowder*Band song ‘Shadows’ goes. It’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns. Very rarely does it seem as though we’re on a straight road. Life, it seems to me, is more like a rambling country lane than a dead straight motorway…

I am currently reading the songs of ascent which pilgrims sang on their annual journey up to Jerusalem. Today I read Ps 126, a song about the restoration of Israel’s fortunes after a time of sorrow:

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

3 The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.” (Ps 126:1-3)

The people of God have always known what it is to rejoice and what it is to mourn or grieve. Paul reminds us in Romans 12: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Rom 12:15) There will be times in life when both responses are required.

Ps 126 goes on:

“Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.” (Ps 126:5-6)

Whether things are going well for us or we feel we’re in a drought, God’s name is to be praised. Aaron Shust’s new song ‘My Hope is in You’ says “My hope is in you, Lord all the day long. I won’t be shaken by drought or storm.” Matt Redman expresses this view in his song ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ when he talks about praising God whether the sun’s shining on us or we’re found in the desert place. Our response needs to be consistent, looking to God whatever our circumstances, whether we’re sowing in tears or reaping with joy.

May God give us the courage and grace to bless His name at all times, in all circumstances, with steadfastness and faith.