“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4).
Many of us are familiar with the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Our pastor recently began a sermon series related to this concept, and not wasting our “exiles” was one of them.
This verse in Psalms was written when the Israelites were captives in Babylon. Their captors taunted them to sing, and they felt they could not do it. Their joys, hopes, and dreams were left behind in their homeland.
Chronic pain and illness can feel like being exiled in a foreign land. Our hopes and dreams have been crushed. We may have been in this land of pain for so long that we don’t feel capable of singing. The outlook for returning to our “promised land” of health may be bleak if not impossible. This exile of pain may be our home for the rest of this earthly life–definitely not something to sing about.
In Jeremiah 29:4-7, the Lord told the Israelites to build homes, raise families, and even seek good for others living in that foreign land. We can do the same.
Living in a land flowing with milk and honey is enjoyable, but it may not cause us to look to God for fulfillment. Exile does. Exile teaches us to adapt to change, to be thankful for even the smallest blessings, and to learn contentment in want rather than plenty. Daily we see signs of God’s mercy and grace. Exile also provides opportunities to help others in adjusting to this foreign land as we share lessons we have learned.
Our exile will end at some point. When it does, will we be able to stand before the Lord and say we made the most of it for Him? Even if we can’t literally sing, we can find other ways to bring praise and glory to God in this land of pain if we look for them. And when our exile is over, our homecoming will be that much sweeter for the waiting.
Prayer: O Lord, although I am in this seemingly exiled place of pain and suffering, You are still with me. May I not let my exile defeat me or define who I am, but may I be refined by it and make the most of its lessons and opportunities. Amen.
About the author:
Bronlynn Spindler lives in VA and is blessed to have the support and encouragement of a wonderful husband and three grown daughters. God’s grace and strength have brought her through thyroid cancer and continue to sustain her through ongoing back pain, depression, headaches, multiple sensitivities, eye pain, and fibromyalgia. You may view her blog of devotionals at http://www.aplaceofsprings57.blogspot.com.
How are you feeling exiled right now? How can you still “sing” to God through this time? Is God showing you things that you could use to encourage others in some way?
In this video, Tim Hughes sings, “Give Us Your Courage.” When we are facing our battles we need that courage to say, “Lord, here I am. Use this exile.” I hope this encourages you on that journey. -Lisa