I Hope, Lord

Waiting and watching. Every parent knows this drill. When your child is ill, teased, bullied, about to make a bad decision, misses the catch that loses the game, etc., that is your job: to wait and watch. Parenting comes with a certain amount of sleepless nights. The bad news is, this is not confined to their early years. I have friends who are preparing to send their kids off to college in the middle of a pandemic. They are walking the kitchen floorboards at 3 AM just like they did when those children were babies. Waiting and watching.

As a world community, we are also waiting and watching. A deadly virus that was supposed to be gone by now has mutated into an even deadlier virus. Hospitals are filling up again and non-COVID cases are having to wait and watch longer than they should due to the overcrowding of COVID patients. A friend’s daughter had to wait for a room for several hours longer than expected after a surgery because of this. Others are being turned away from their local Emergency Rooms for lack of beds.

Waiting and watching.

Psalm 130 is known as a penitential psalm, and is part of a collection of psalms of ascents that were sung by Hebrew pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. It appears in Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant liturgies, and has been set to music by several composers. It is known as a song that is used in times of “communal distress.” How appropriate then, for us to study it today.

Psalm 130 (Common English Bible)

I cry out to you from the depths, Lord—
my Lord, listen to my voice!
    Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
If you kept track of sins, Lord—
    my Lord, who would stand a chance?
But forgiveness is with you—
    that’s why you are honored.

I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
    and I wait for God’s promise.
My whole being waits for my Lord—
    more than the night watch waits for morning;
    yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!

Israel, wait for the Lord!
    Because faithful love is with the Lord;
    because great redemption is with our God!
He is the one who will redeem Israel
    from all its sin.

This is a song that is meant to comfort the discomforted. The beauty of the language of hope overrides the lament about waiting. The psalmist pleads for God to hear his request for mercy, and then reminds God of his forgiving nature. He reminds us that we, too, can wait for God’s promises.

What are you waiting for? What keeps you awake at night? Remember this, as you pace: God’s faithful love will redeem you, and in fact will redeem the world. So take comfort, all who wait. God hears our cries from the depths, and is coming to save us.

Our hope is in you, Lord.

Hope Rises by Michelle Robertson

Flight Delays

FLIGHT DELAYS. Everybody has them. If you fly in or out of Atlanta, you get more than your fair share of them. Mechanical issues, weather issues, personnel issues…it doesn’t take much for your flight to be delayed. But if you think about it, you may want your flight to be delayed. Flying with an engine part that needs to be replaced, or into a tornado-spawning storm, or with one of your pilots missing is never a good thing. Bring on the delay!

Said nobody ever.

Delays are annoying, inconvenient, and sometimes expensive. I heard a story about an extremely irate man whose plane had been delayed for weather. The man was very loud in his displeasure and demanded to see the pilot. (Because, of course, the pilot can fix the weather.) He was yelling about how much the delay was going to cost him, and said that the 2-hour delay caused him to miss a meeting to finalize a multi-million dollar deal. The pilot apologized and explained the situation for the tenth time, but that didn’t appease the man. He went back into rant-mode about the lost millions, the pilot finally responded, “Well sir, next time you have a multi-million dollar deal on the line, perhaps you should fly in the day before to ensure your on-time arrival.”

He’s got a point. That business man was leaving a lot to chance by only allowing two hours to land, make his way out of the large airport, find a taxi, and get to his downtown meeting on time.

Flight delays in life happen every day. A couple tries to conceive a child, and month after month they are disappointed. A college graduate waits endless weeks to hear about grad school. A tired Mom tries to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but the baby keeps waking up. An elderly man waits patiently for his son’s visit, but it seems to keep getting put off every month. A hospice patient takes months rather than days to finish their life’s journey. Flight delays happen.

The only thing you can control when a flight delay happens in your life is your response to it.

Isaiah 30

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion..
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

God longs to be gracious to us in our delays. God will rise up to show us compassion if we use our waiting time LOOKING for him. Rather than rant and rail, can your response be one of hopeful anticipation? Of increased prayer? Of calm reassurance to your fellow passengers that all is well, because God is in charge?

God is with you in your waiting. God may actually be using the delay to prepare you for what is coming. Where is he active when you feel that your life has stalled? If you look for him, you will find him.

Blessed are all who wait for him.

ATL Sunrise