The morning light felt gentle and warm against my troubled spirit. I sat on the porch sipping my coffee, Bible in lap, Blue by my side. Peace settled over me — contentment that had been missing for quite some time.
“Speak to me through Your Word, Lord. I’m listening,” I prayed.
Opening my Bible, my eyes fell on the subtitle of Psalm 137: Longing for Zion in a Foreign Land. I paused and considered the season of life I’m experiencing.
It feels foreign to me.
My husband of thirty-six years has dementia and his rapid decline is apparent.
Our decades of pastoring have ended.
I’m a caregiver now with minimal speaking engagements and limited writing time.
I often cry myself to sleep.
I long for Zion — Jerusalem, a familiar, happier time.
The Israelites said, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!'” (Psalm 137:1-3).
The children of God had ceased to praise. Their harps hung upon the willows, their voices silent.
But wait! Why did they refuse to sing? Their captors were mocking them, making light of their God. Zion’s song was for worship, not entertainment.
Praise is for worship, not for entertainment.
The next verses say, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth — if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy” (verses 4-6).
This outward behavior reflected their difficult place.
Their inward reflections — hearts and minds revealing their steadfast love of God, their complete trust in Him. Deep within, I believe, the lessons of Moses resonated, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
This had sustained them in their captivity.
Worship had never left their hearts.
Jesus taught the same commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
Jesus added the word mind. Dianoia. (Dee-an-oy-ah) meaning “a thinking through”, understanding, insight.
Like the Israelites, I long to be free from the captivity of the enemy that threatens to consume me. I long for Zion, that happy, familiar place.
Zion is within me. The temple of the Holy Spirit is me. And you. He resides within us.
The truth of God’s unfailing love, His abiding Presence, sets us free from the clutches of the enemy. Understanding who He is, loving Him by bringing our thoughts captive to Him where they are subject to His cleansing and renewal — loving the Lord our God with all our minds.
Worship has never left my heart. My deep, deep love for the Lord has remained steadfast through this very difficult season.
So I now recognize the lies of the enemy taunting me to play him a song of Zion as he slinks away laughing.
But, don’t you see? Worship has never left my heart. His lies are empty. His lies to you are empty as well. During a season of difficulty riddled with more questions than answers, washed with salty tears, a genuine feeling of loss — God is there. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Psalm 138:7 reads, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will complete that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever…”
Sing for joy weary traveler. God is carrying us over to the other side step by step, strength by strength. Sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I would love for you to share what’s on your heart in the comments below. Scroll a little farther down and you’ll see where you can leave your comments. Together, we can find the nearness of God in our darkest moments.
Sweet blessings to you,