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Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Wrestling to Hope
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
- Psalm 121, NLT -
The first Advent candle was the subject of many church services this past weekend. It stands for hope and so I joined our congregation to hear an enthusiastic message of the hope that Jesus represents. I remember feeling slightly dazed as I listened, hyped on coffee to compensate for less than 3 hours sleep the previous night. I also admit to feeling sad.
Maybe it’s just the holidays. Although they represent one of the best times of the year, they can be so conflicted and conflicting for many families. The is particularly true if the family is dealing with a loved one with a disability. And, even more challenging when the loved one is a child. My mind skipped over all the family gatherings that became outright disasters, or the gatherings I spent in the garden, far away from the chatter and food, where J could be free from the expectations to be cute and cheerful, from groping hands and the noise. I also remember the gatherings I ignored, and the ones I didn't host. I remembered not being sure how to make the holiday meaningful for everyone and how to remember what it could mean to me.
So, what is my hope? The speaker gave a list of who Jesus is to us, and in the moment, the list felt flat. Actually, the shadow of the past three difficult weeks, on the heels of the previous month of illness, had me completely worn out and … dare I say it? hopeless. I will believe God’s word even when I don’t connect with it as my current experience, but I really wanted to feel something.
'Blessed be the God of all comfort who comforts us …' Please God, some comfort.
Still emotionally ragged, I had a conversation with a wise woman who started our time together by reading Psalm 121 to me. Desperate, I just listened.
The Lord keeps you …
The Lord keeps watch over you …
The word keeps kept echoing in my heart. I’ll keep you. I was holding my coffee cup as we spoke, and I could almost see myself being held, cradled, just as I cradled my cup. This is His promise to me. This is my hope. The Lord will KEEP me. I took a breath, and rested, anchored in my advent hope. My Deliverer is here and yet, He is coming. While I wait,
He keeps me.
Loving God, source of all we could ever need, thank you for the deep well of understanding that you have for us. Thank you for hearing and understanding the struggle to hope, in the face to daily challenges we face. Thanks for the grace that you provide, for the deliverance you provide, for the hope you provide, even when we don't recognize it. Please give us seeing eyes and hearing ears today, so that we can see your hope and your rescue as you come. Thank you for the mystery of your Presence, as we wait for you to come this advent season.