A Distant Hope
Goshen College Devotions
A Distant Hope
Nov 26, 2014 02:00 am

By Joanna Epp, a junior environmental science major from Newton, Kansas
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (3) (NRSV)

Today’s passage follows the week’s theme of asking God to reveal hope in this Advent season. “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved,” verse three implores. This phrase is repeated twice more in the selection, each time growing more urgent as the writer transitions from addressing the Lord as “O God” in verse three to “O God of hosts” in verse seven to “O Lord God of hosts” in verse 19.

The imagery of God’s shining face is certainly powerful at this time of year. As the snow falls, we realize we must accept the inevitable — winter is here to stay. We draw back into hibernation, dreaming of blossoming flowers and warm breezes. It is the pitch black of winter mornings that we wake up to, early and cold, and too soon the darkness returns in early evening. At this dreary time of year, the promise of God’s gloriously shining face is an incredible and hopeful dream — one that perhaps we’d like to be here now, rather than some distant hope.

But, as one of my favorite passages on hope reminds us, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25). At this early point in Advent season, as we reluctantly accept the imminence of winter, it is helpful to remember that “hope that is seen is not hope.” The process of hoping, of longing — of Advent — is not just a means to an end; it is a very important and meaningful step along the way.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (3) (NRSV)

To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
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 the scorn of our neighbours;
our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.


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