When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Genesis tells us that we were made in the image of God. That word, image, has such a rich meaning. I think that being in the image of God has something to do with our imagination. We can imagine things that are not. Using imagination, we can also step into the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of another person through literature and art. If you think about that, we really are fearfully and wonderfully made. Of course, the fall has had its terrible effects upon us. Our imagination has often become a tool for our foe to sow fear and anxiety among us. In the absence of knowledge, our imaginations rarely trend positive. We always seem to imagine the worst.
The Psalm today asks us to imagine the best, the day when the exiles of Israel could go home. They were walking around as if in a dream, their mouths full of laughter. It seemed unreal to them. Right now, the simple act of standing in front of a full grocery store shelf of toilet paper and choosing which package to buy might seem like a dream, another life entirely. It was only a few weeks ago that life was “normal.” Will those days ever return? I don’t know. Right now, such days might seem impossibly distant.
The psalmist is remembering those good days which were in the past for him. He remembers the days when God restored their fortunes and then he turns to the future and looks for God to do it again. Yesterday Isaiah asked us to be open to God’s new thing that he was doing. Use your memory to reflect on what God has done and imagine what he will do for you in his goodness and mercy.