1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name. 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes. 11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die. 12 Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord! 13 Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Hope is born in the anguish of God’s people. And hope is most prevalent when we NEED hope. I remember a time growing up when I never NEEDED God. And I suspect some of you reading today have been through a few bumps here and there knowing God is around when you NEED God. But, perhaps, your life has never depended upon God.
I remember a time when my life depended upon God. I no longer had control of anything, and the only thing I could do was to reach out to God. Our son was in ICU at Children’s Medical Center and we were playing the waiting game, waiting to see if his tiny, infant body would be strong enough to fight the illness. While we were lucky, others were not. Despite the outcome or the particular illness, we found commonality in our NEED for God. The opportunity for the cure of illness had been injected. All we had was hope.
Our son lived, and we walked out of the hospital with hope.
The child next to us died, and his parents walked out of the hospital with hope for a cure so another family would not have to go through the pain they experienced.
Hope is God. For Hope does not leave us and God does not leave us. Hope is what we have left when all else fails. God is what we have left when all other controls have been abandoned.
During this time in Advent, I pray that we will consider true Hope in the world. I pray that this new realization of Hope will inspire us to action on behalf of our neighbor and our world.
Thanks be to God for Hope and for the Psalmist who never loses hope.