A Psalm in the Advent Season
The liturgical season of Advent is a space where the mixed emotions of longing and grief are given space to sit in tension. In contrast to the “Christmas season” filled with Christmas parties, one more gift exchange to buy a gift for, hunting for the most desired gift on a child’s wishlist and preparing far more food than is good for many of us. Creating space for the tension between what we long for and the struggles that are immediately before us is a delicate task. Emotions like shame, disappointment, fear, anger and even depression can be powerful and they colour our perspective on the present and block out our hope for the future. Yet, if we are given a safe space to lament, our grief can be a beautiful thing that is able to free and heal us and help us move forward with more confidence and strength.
But, time alone does not heal all wounds, as the proverb goes. It is the God of Creation that brings about healing. Isaiah 4 reminds us that it is God who ultimately brings about justice and healing. After the litany of Israel’s sins in Isaiah 3 — greedy men, oppressive youth and arrogant women are bringing injustice to the nation, Isaiah 4:2-6 reminds us that it is the presence of God — a branch spread over the nation that will bring relief.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
But, in the meantime, we balance longing and lament. Today, we have an original lament contributed by an anonymous author. Sit today, with your own laments for loss and betrayal with this author.
A Psalm for Job Loss and Betrayal
Lord of my heart, Spirit of wisdom,
Inventor of life and victor of death,
I have been attacked, slandered and betrayed by those I was vulnerable with. I have lost my livelihood, professional identity and confidence. My ambition has died and in its place, I am filled with anxiety. I have failed to walk in wisdom and I have been hurt.
I am lost. I do not know how to close this chapter, how to heal, what to do next or how to provide for my family.
Forgive me for my misplaced ambitions and lack of wisdom. Bring peace, healing and restoration to me and my family. Provide me with creativity and drive to create new opportunities that will bring honour to you.
In your divine timing, you both gave me this job and killed it. You asked me to surrender my work and these relationships to you in the Spring and now you have taken them. I trusted you then and I trust you now.
I trust you to turn the death of my job and these relationships into life.
I trust you to redeem the dedication, travel, loss of time with my family, and effort that I poured into this job. I trust you to heal the pain of betrayal and to help me continue to be vulnerable in love with all my brothers and sisters.
Jesus, you control my story, my identity and my work. I am your daughter and I celebrate your Spirit of freedom that rests with me. You never have and never will cease to speak to me and guide me. Jesus, you are my teacher, protection, provision, and source of peace.
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