So continues the count down to the new study! Friday, Saturday, Sunday….and then on Monday, please begin Reclaiming Your Joy, by Lorraine Hill (by all means, do begin reclaiming your joy, but also begin the book!), the Monday-Friday devotional that lasts for eight weeks. Please check the calendar, or send me Feedback, if you have a question – but for scheduling purposes, we are working for eight weeks, skipping the week of Thanksgiving, ending the study on December 16. The daily journaling takes only about 15 minutes. You will just need the book (or ebook), a pen, your Bible and just a little bit of quiet time. Journal Monday-Friday, and then chime in Friday-Sunday about your week (I will post a discussion-starter on Fridays).
On Tuesdays, I will post a devotional on joy for each week based on chapters from the book Heart Strings: Finding a Song When You’ve Lost Your Joy, by Jill Briscoe. Today, I would like to provide you a brief introduction to that book. Heart Strings is based on Psalm 137 and explores experiences that may distract us from our close relationship with God and can cause us to “lose our song”…to forfeit our joy.
By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
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!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!
Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
The writer of this psalm is unknown, but appears to have been a first-hand witness of the devastation wrought by the Babylonians as they carried the people of Judah off into exile. The very “People of God” were being disciplined by God: sent into exile, separated from the their country, their culture, their temple and their God. Add to that the equivalent of ancient Middle East trash talk, and it was more than they could bear…they hung their harps on the trees. Interesting to note that the scientific name of the Weeping Willow tree, Salix babylonica, is derived from the image of defeat and despair seen in Psalm 137. They hung their harps on the trees, they lost their song. They longed for rescue and redemption along with retribution against their conquerors. It was such a bitter place to be!
Some authors (including Heart Strings author Jill Briscoe) have suggested that Isaiah 40 is the answer that those conquered people longed to hear; but it came just before the exile was over, many bitter years after the atrocities described in the psalm occurred.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins. Isaiah 40:1,2
Heart Strings will help us to understand that hanging up our harps, losing our song, and forsaking our joy can be the result of many modern-day tragedies and difficulties; but that all of these experiences can also serve to draw us nearer to our God – who longs to comfort us.
JustaGirl…just like you!