Daily Devotion – November 24, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
80:2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
80:4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
80:5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.
80:6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.
80:7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
80:17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.
80:18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
80:19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

This Psalm has praise for Almighty God and lament that God seems to have forsaken the people. It also has a plea that the relationship between God and the people be restored.

It is written by people who are suffering – perhaps suffering actual woes, but maybe mostly suffering from debasement, loss of pride, from the scorn of others who might once have respected them. People are laughing at them. If only God’s people could be rescued and made strong once again, the people promise to be faithful in worshiping the Lord once again.

This seems all too familiar to us in the United States at this time. We know that the whole world is suffering from this great pandemic, and that people are sick and dying everywhere. But others may be mocking the USA because our rates of the disease are outpacing almost every other nation with the resources and knowledge that we as Americans have at our disposal. Why might they be mocking us? We know some are mocking us because of our President. We know some are mocking us because some among us are choosing large unmasked crowded activities. We know some are mocking us because America is usually a world leader in getting on top of difficulties and finding solutions. We do this by pulling together for the good of all, but right now we live in two opposing camps.

What can we take from this Psalm, then? Is there a lesson in it for Americans? Perhaps. What if faithful Christians of all denominations shared one behavior in common: looking to God for ways to live during this dark time? What if we prayed for wisdom before we made decisions? What if we did spiritual discernment to discover what actions God might be calling us to do for the sake of the neighbor God loves? What if every day we asked for guidance and promised faithfulness? Would it make a difference? I think it would, to each of us. And if each of us were slightly changed, slightly more attentive to God’s call, it would change our posture.

And that could be a change the world could see.

Lord God, Thank you for loving us. Help us to turn to you for wisdom and discernment. Help us to listen to you and change our posture in the world, to your glory.    Amen.