Summary: 2nd in series on restoring the joy in a Christian’s life. Sermon begins in Psalms but is built around Jeremiah passage.
RESTORING THE JOY
Part 2: Remembering You’re Not On Your Own
- Read Psalm 137:1-4
In this passage, we find that Israel had been invaded by the Babylonians. The Babylonians pillaged their country. They killed a lot of people; and then took the leaders and whatever young men looked like they might become leaders, back to Babylon so they couldn’t organize the people in Israel to give their captors any trouble.
As we take up our account, we find some of the Israelite captives, sitting on the banks of a river in the country they were taken to. Things have not turned out like they planned. It seems that God has turned His back on them. The joy is gone, and they have given up. They hung their harps on the willows.
Do you ever feel like that? You ever feel that you’re just going through the motions? You ever feel that all of the excitement and joy is gone from life and you’re just waiting to see what’s gonna happen next? You don’t know what’s coming, but it can’t be good because you can’t remember the last time you got a break?
It reminds me of that old song from Hee Haw, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me.”
There are times, even for Christians, that life seems like that some times. Either you’re going through tough times with your finances or your family; with loved ones or loneliness; with jobs or jerks. Some of you are tired, and some are ticked. Some are over whelmed, and some are over worked.
The Bible records that God led the Israelites out of Egypt. He had provided for them, He had led them through the wilderness and provided for them every step of the way. He gave them victory over their enemies and they thought they were going to be living the good life.
After a while however, they began to forget about God and to take Him for granted. So God punished them by having the Babylonians invade their land. The Babylonians attacked, destroyed the temple, and deported large numbers of Israelites. Many people were killed. Families were separated. It was a tough time for God’s people.
That’s when this Psalm was written. The writer said, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept. We hung our harps on the willows. The songs we used to sing we can’t sing anymore. The joy is not there. Our songs ring hollow. To make matters even worse, the people who brought all of this stuff on us, are asking us ‘why we aren’t acting like we used to‘, ‘why we aren’t singing like we used to?’”
This morning, some of you could say, “That’s where I am. I used to have such hope. I used to have that joy. When I sang, I used to have tears come to my eyes just thinking about how good God had been to me. Now, the tears I cry are from sorrow. They flow from a broken heart.
My friend, if that’s your situation this morning, I can’t tell you why you’re experiencing what you are right now. I don’t know your situation and I don’t know why God works the way He does all the time. He doesn’t ask my counsel before He works. Sometimes He allows pain in our lives in response to the sin in our lives. He wants us to get rid of it. Sometimes He allows pain in our lives because our love for Him has grown cold and He wants us to come back to Him.
I remember several years ago, when my nephew went through a growing spurt. His legs hurt him every night because He was growing so fast. Sometimes God allows pain because He wants us to grow. Sometimes we hurt because we live in a fallen world and we suffer because of other people’s sins and selfishness. I don’t know why you’re going through what you are right now, but I can tell you this, there is a better way to handle the situation than to simply hang up your harp, sit down and cry. There is a better way to handle things than to simply settle for where you are, listen to the devil’s lies and think it’s not going to get any better. There is a better way to respond to the situation, than to simply quit. That’s what the Devil wants. But there is a better way to respond when things get tough and that is God’s way.
After some of the people who had been captured and taken to Babylon sat down and quit, God had the prophet Jeremiah write them a letter to remind them of a few things. This morning I would like us to look at God’s reminder to us as well.