In this psalm the people of Israel complain to God about their situation: their country has been devastated by enemies and Israel is in bondage. The people pray to God that he change his attitude from anger to concern and save them. But I have a particular focus on this text.
Lent is a time of reflection. We’ve all heard that before. And during Lent we are all taught to recognize our sinful nature. But sometimes we don’t know why that’s important. Sometimes we’re not taught or don’t understand why being sinful people is not a good thing. And if we’ve assimilated to the popular culture, we may not even recognize that we need a Savior. Jesus becomes a nice guy who did some nice things that we should try to do too, like Gandhi only older. But the psalmist knew differently, even before Jesus. The psalmist said “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 see, the psalmist writing hundreds of years before Jesus recognized that we normally live in broken relationship with God. He knew that we needed to be saved. And you’ll notice that he knew something else here. Because of our broken relationship, because of our sinfulness, God does not always recognize our prayers.
The truth is that we know this from our own experiences with other people. Have you even been on the outs with someone and then tried to talk to them? It doesn’t usually go well, does it? At best it’s awkward and at worst they just ignore you. And if you’ve been on the other side of that exchange you know that you’re probably not going to hear anything the other person wants to say while there’s still that brokenness between you. Broken relationships need healing before any kind of effective communication is possible.
So as we approach holy week, maybe it’s time for us to heal some broken relationships. If we’re separated from God then we need to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. And, if we’re separated from other people in our lives then we need to seek them out and seek reconciliation. Let us head into the celebrative week of Easter with renewed bonds of relationship with God and with one another.
Grace and Peace!
Don Stevens is the pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Point Pleasant Beach and has taught and been the guest speaker at camp. Photo by camp alumnus Kenny Kinter, Kenny Kinter Photographer.