Bittersweet memories – Hope 103.2

Bittersweet memories

By David ReayTuesday 9 Jul 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Psalm 137:1-6

1 By the rivers of Babylon-

       there we sat down and there we wept
       when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
       we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
       asked us for songs,
    and our tormentors asked for mirth,saying,
      “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How could we sing the LORD’s song

       in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you,O Jerusalem,
       let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
       if I do not remember you,
    if I do not set Jerusalem
       above my highest joy. (NRSV)

Memories can be both blessing and burden. We remember the good times with gladness. But if we are going through not-so-good times,those memories are like little pinpricks of pain. They remind us of what we once had but have no longer. Which was the experience of the Jewish exiles in Babylon. They remembered the times in Jerusalem and the songs of faith sung there. But they could not sing those songs in this strange land.

The past experiences in Jerusalem could not be replicated here beside the rivers of Babylon. The past remained a memory,lodging in their consciousness,reminding them of all they had and all they had lost. And yet,they clung to their memory of those former days. And we may legitimately wonder if this remembering was an expression of hope. One day they might be back in Jerusalem and there sing their songs again.

For any seemingly ensnared in an undesirable situation the memory of earlier gladness may be bittersweet. But we are saved from despair by recalling that life is a journey,that God calls us to move on with confidence that he is with us now and always. Followers of Jesus are never truly in a strange land. They need never ‘hang up their harps’. They can sing their songs of faith because homecoming and not exile is the last word.

David Reay

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