When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
A lot of people in the US have lost their home, and more are about to. Recent reports show that this national tragedy is far from over, and new records will soon be set.
I know how that feels. There was a point in my life when I was exactly one day from being homeless. Only a year earlier I had been convinced that nothing could keep us from achieving our goal of a one million dollar net worth. (This was back when a million dollars was a lot of money. About a year ago Oprah was making that much every day.) As a result we’d begun living as if we already had it. But not only had I not achieved that goal, everything was gone and we were being ordered out of our house.
That afternoon two remarkable things happened. First, friends of ours who wanted our house had finally been approved for their financing and could close that very day, and the money we’d get from the sale would be sufficient to pay off a creditor in the final stages of foreclosure and give us enough to rent an apartment. And second, the signed closing documents persuaded the creditor to wait the three days necessary for the bank to fund the buyer’s loan, and we were off the hook. Our last asset was gone, but at least we had avoided having a foreclosure on our record.
I had one final embarrassing situation to endure. In full view of the neighbors, I had to carry our clothing and stuff two doors down the street to the small apartment we rented. It was in a building we had actually owned a month earlier. You see, I was going to get rich in real estate and had bitten off way more than I could chew when the market turned downward and I was caught. It wasn’t a pretty sight. 35 apartments and an office building gone in less than a year.
The million dollars I was so proudly accumulating was coming partly from cash we had invested, but mostly from the benefits of an inflationary spiral in the local housing market. I never did get the paper gains back, but within the span of two years the Lord had returned all of our cash and enough extra to pay off our remaining creditors. After making a solid down payment we were moving into a new house at a price we could easily afford, and it was far better than the one we had been forced to sell.
So I not only have real empathy for people losing their homes now, I also have some understanding of how the Israelites felt when they were released from the Babylonian captivity and returned to Jerusalem. Like them I too had friends who visited our new home and remarked about what great things the Lord had done for us.
But the greatest thing he did was unseen by the world around us and had nothing to do with houses or money. The greatest thing He did was to decide to do whatever it took to get my attention. Because as I had come to the realization that everything was coming apart and there was nothing I could do to stop it, I had sat there like Job in the ashes of my self made disaster and finally cried out to Him.
And He came and sat down beside me and said, “Are you ready to listen now? Because I want to tell you about something greater than this, greater than anything you’ve ever imagined.” I was and He did and my life was forever changed. I no longer cared about the house or the million dollars, but for the first time in my life I truly felt wealthy because I had seen what’s in store for us. He had given me an eternal perspective and It’s beyond comprehension.
I hope it didn’t take a personal defeat of that magnitude to get you to listen. But whatever it took, I think you’ll agree it was worth it.