In the late 1800’s a little boy who lived in the country reached the age of twelve. He had never seen a circus. So when a poster went up at school announcing that the circus was coming to town, he ran home and asked, “Daddy, can I go?” The family was poor but the father knew how important this was so he said, “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time I’ll see to it that you have the money to go.” On Saturday the chores were quickly done and the boy dressed in his Sunday best. The father gave the boy a dollar bill and cautioned him to be careful. The boy was so excited his feet barely touched the ground as he headed for the village. (1)
As he came near to the village he saw people lining up along the streets – they were preparing to watch the circus parade into town. So the boy joined the crowd and this was the grandest thing he’d ever seen. Caged animals snarled, bands played loudly, midgets performed acrobatics, and the clowns brought up the rear. As one of the clowns passed by the little boy reached into his pocket, took out his dollar bill, and handed it to the clown. With that he turned and went home. As far as he knew, he had seen all there was to see of the circus – but he had only seen the parade. Things are not always what they seem!
What do you see as you look at your life? Are you settling for only what you know, or are experiencing at the moment? Are you content with second best, ready to settle for the parade passing by? Read on. God wants you to know that no matter what you think you see – “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
Psalm 126 is a jubilant psalm in which we discover, among other truths, that God transforms despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy: “he who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” The Israelites were celebrating their deliverance from Babylon; their long 400 year captivity was over. The impossible had happened – a pagan king had released them. The unbelievable had occurred – they were going home! For so long they had barely dared to hope for this moment. So when it did happen they “Were like men who dreamed. (Their) mouths were filled with laughter, and (their) tongues with songs of joy.” It felt like a dream.
Perhaps you know the feeling of “too good to be true,” of pinching yourself to make sure something is really happening. It happens to the bride who is finally walking down the aisle – to the new president at his inauguration – to the members of the team when they receive the championship trophy – to the wrongly accused prisoner when he’s freed – to the infertile couple who’ve just had a baby. It happened to the disciples when the resurrected Jesus stood before them: “…he showed them his hands and his feet! And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement…” (Lk. 24:41) It happened to Peter when the angel miraculously led him out of prison (Acts 12:29): “Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.” It’s always like a dream when God works! But He does.
It’s just that God works in his time. And we are not in His time zone! Over time God transforms despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy. So it was with these Israelites – their captivity had been great but their deliverance was even greater. They went from exile to ecstasy, from banishment to bliss. In His time, that’s always what God does for His people.
Remember Jesus talking with his disciples the night before his crucifixion? They were deeply concerned about his ‘going away.’ (John 16:19-22): “Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this,
so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, `In a little while you will see me
no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (2)
So maybe you’re tired and teary because your life is making no progress, you have all you can do to stay even – let alone get ahead; maybe your life is bearing no fruit; or you’re worried about your children; or you’re wrestling with unanswered prayers; you’re grieving those who are no longer with you. Believe this: God will work in His time; He will transform despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy.
How can we be sure? Because by doing so God is honored. “Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” As John Milton penned, “Let us with a gladsome mind, Praise the Lord, for he is kind; For his mercies aye endure, Ever faithful, ever sure.” God will turn people’s thoughts away from self to Himself. And one of the surest ways to do it is for God to transform despondency into expectancy and tears of sorrow into songs of joy – in His time. Whatever the parade you’re watching today, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”