Day 15 — Sunday, December 12, 2021

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 an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:1–7

Where is our God of comfort? In whom do we seek repose? In today’s reading, we hear of an angry God, refusing to answer the prayers of the people and causing them to “drink tears by the bowlful.”

Often in life, we feel God is angry with us as tragedy descends. We pray and our prayers are not answered. We try to live a holy life and find one roadblock after another thrown in front of us. And we ask ourselves, where is God now? Why are we suffering? Where is our God of comfort?

We are a people of quick answers, and getting no answer, no matter what the speed, is unthinkable! So when the world does not make sense to us, we want God to provide us with an answer, and preferably sooner rather than later. What is hard is developing the patience to wait for an answer and acknowledging that one may not come or that we may not be able to comprehend the answer we receive. We are humans, we are broken, and we are limited in what we understand. 

The psalmist here is suffering but is not seeking a quick answer. He is simply making a plea to God to “make your face shine upon us.” There are no requests for answers or even questioning why this suffering is happening. He simply acknowledges in the depths of his pain his desire to feel the embrace of God, to bask in God’s light.

As we journey forward in the Advent season, we cannot understand, and do not need to understand, all that happens. Like Mary, traveling while ready to give birth to a child whose presence is beyond her understanding, we can simply seek God’s presence.

Derek Emerson is the director of events, conferences and the Haworth Hotel at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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