Dec. 16: Let your face shine, that we may be saved
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Have you ever been waiting for something so long and so hard that you just ache? Maybe you are hungry, and anticipating a wonderful meal later. Maybe you know you will see a loved one soon.
While I was in Nicaragua through Goshen’s Study-Service Term program, I felt that way as the end of my term came near, and each day felt longer and longer. I thought about foods I wanted to eat, people I wanted to see, places I wanted to visit. My body ached to be home.
These feelings each involve waiting. Something great is going to happen, but it’s not here yet. We are looking forward to what is coming in the future.
They also, however, involve certainty. We may not know exactly when we will eat that meal we are so hungry for, and time always seems to stretch when we are waiting for something good – but we have full confidence that good things will come. This is how Psalm 80 feels to me. My Bible tells me that this psalm is a lament for the fall of the Northern Kingdom. The author is begging God to put an end to the suffering and displacement of the people of Israel. This is a plea, but also an expression of trust. The author is confidently relying on God to pull through.
This is how we are during Advent. We relive this season knowing how much we want and need God to come into this world. We ache because we need the nourishment, deliverance and protection that we can only get from God. We do not know how God will be revealed this year. We only ask, and wait in confidence.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7 (NRSV)
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbours;
our enemies laugh among themselves.