What does the psalmist do after he has remembered those earlier days in which “our mouths were filled with laughter”? As we read in yesterday’s study, one thing he does is ask God for the good times again. We see a second thing in today’s lesson.

Yesterday, we looked at how we can lose the joy of our salvation, and also the loss of joy from some great spiritual victory. We now continue with two other losses.

What joy we have when we realize that God has operated powerfully in our lives in such ways, making us more like Jesus Christ than before. Yes, but it is not long before we come up against another besetting sin and become conscious of other, perhaps even more significant failures. Soon the former joy is only a faded memory. We wonder if these struggles will never end. Will we ever really be happy again? 

It begins with a scene of nearly delirious joy, a scene from Israel's past when the people were released from their Babylonian captivity and returned to Zion. The second half jumps to the age in which the psalm was written. It was a very different time, a time of difficult, unrewarding labor and even weeping. This stanza describes these hard times, but it also contains both a prayer for, as well as a prophecy of, better days to come. 

Early in this week's study I mentioned Thomas Cahill and his study of the role of the Irish in preserving learning during the dark ages. I return to him here because of what he has to say about St. Patrick, the young Roman who brought Christianity to Ireland. Patrick had been captured in England by Irish pirates when he was only sixteen years old and had been put to work as a slave for an Irish chieftain. He escaped after six years, returned to his family, but was then called by God to return to Ireland as a missionary.