Raw and Resolute
Lord, I wait for You. You are the one and the only one. Come, Lord Jesus, into my world.
Read Psalm 129:1-8
A song of ascents.
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Just as I am … I come” (Charlotte Elliott, 1798-1871). If you have a hymnbook, look up this old but revered hymn. Make the lyrics a prayer. Or, if you don’t have a hymnbook, do a google search for the lyrics.
“As we start our service, let us leave behind all distractions, so we can concentrate on God!” We close our eyes, but the more we try not to think of what we should be forgetting, the more we do. I understand the idea behind this invitation. Worship is about gazing wholeheartedly on the beauty of Jesus. It is a time to abandon self-centeredness. But perhaps the call should rather be to bring our distractions and burdens, all that we are, into God’s presence. Psalm 129 offers a model.
Used by God’s people as they travel to the Temple at Jerusalem, this psalm carries experiences of anguished suffering right into worship. As they walk, they incorporate into their liturgy a ploughed field, yoked oxen, grass on a roof and the blessing for farmers. The leader begins: “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” and that painful reality is not swept aside, but repeated by the congregation. Israel is personified from its early days; the anguish of individuals and the community are one. At least part of their persecution has come from their vocation as God’s people. Like furrows in the soil, the tyrants’ whips have formed deep gashes on their backs and memories. The rawness of repeated torment over many years is part of their faith experience and expression.
So too is the intervention of God. His saving righteousness is celebrated. He has released them from chains, the yoke of oppression. God’s people can be confident today that those enemy ploughmen will themselves disappear, like shallow grass scorched dry on clay roofs. They leave no harvest. They are denied the customary blessing of passing travellers. Meanwhile, Israel survives, her deliverance the fuel to praise and gratitude. En
route to worship, passing the harvest fields, they sing of a dogged faith: “persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:9).
Think of those who are suffering today for their faith in Jesus. Bring them to God.
Lord, I lift up those who suffer for their faith. Steady and strengthen them, assure and enable them. Bless them with Your grace.