Gracious God, on this first Sunday of Advent, I am reminded that my ways are not Your ways, but in all things, You are God.
Read PSALM 123
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.
3 Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
for we have endured no end of contempt.
4 We have endured no end
of ridicule from the arrogant,
of contempt from the proud.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, / look full in His wonderful face, / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, / in the light of His glory and grace.’1
Here is a psalm written amidst trouble. ‘… we have endured no end of contempt … no end of ridicule’, cries the psalmist (3,4), as he seems to describe the experience of being mocked for being one of God’s people.2 Maybe you can relate all too well to the feeling that there is ‘no end’ to your trouble, whether it too is due to persecution; or perhaps ill health, family strife, financial difficulty…
What ought we to do in seasons of trouble? The answer lies in where we fix our gaze. In times of trouble, we are tempted to look back in regret, forward in fear, down in despair, or inward in introspection. None of these gazes will bring relief; it is in looking up that relief will come. For when we look up, we lift our eyes to the highest and greatest thing there is – to the Lord our God. As we fix our gaze on Him, meditating on His ways and works, it is with confidence that we are able to cry out, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us’ (3). For we know that we cry out to a God who sits enthroned in heaven (1), who is sovereign over all. We know that we cry out to our covenant God, who because of that covenant will show mercy – though we may have to wait for it (2).3 We know that we cry out to a God whose very nature and mission is mercy.4 We know that we cry out to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who spared not His only Son, so that the wrath we deserved fell on Him, not on us.
As we fix our eyes on these wonderful truths, we find that relief has come.
Where is your gaze fixed? Look up! Meditate on the Lord, who is rich in mercy. Rest in that truth as you call upon Him for help.
Lord Jesus, You are my point of reference, my North Star. As I look to You, I know You will guard my heart and mind.
1 Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1863–1961 2 CH Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol 3, part 2, Hendrickson Publishers, 2004, p41 3 Spurgeon, p40 4 eg., Exod 34:6,7; Luke 1:76–79
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