in the days of her affliction and bitterness
all the precious things
that were hers from days of old.
It is a strange paradox of life that, in the midst of our blessings we often do not see or appreciate their sweetness. But, in the words of Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got/till it’s gone.” Jerusalem, the joy of the whole earth, the site of the Temple where the God of Israel dwelt, the glorious capital of David’s kingdom was, by the time of Israel’s worst decline and just before her conquest, a lovely place full of all sort of goodies (not unlike the affluent west these days). And yet, the prophets rail against her for being full of iniquity and misery (not unlike the affluent west these days). It was not until she was beaten into the dust by Babylon, her Temple destroyed and all her goodies taken away that she began, in the days of bitterness, to have sweet thoughts of how wonderful her gifts had been. Admittedly they were sweet thoughts of regret. But they were still thoughts which at last appreciated how good life had been and how good God had been to Israel. In that hour, Israel — though she knew it not — began to recover the only real wealth she ever possessed. For she began to rediscover the goodness of life even when she thought she was losing it all forever. It is the paradox of the cross again: we find our lives when we lose them. Today, thank God for what you have been given — and for the goodness of the Giver. He will remain. The goodies won’t.