This weekend I talked with an older man serving as a volunteer at a local community event. He and I were both wearing masks, and I asked him how the community responded to the Christmas event we were there to take part in. Attendance was down by more than half of previous years, but the turn in the conversation came when the man referred to his mask and said, “I think we’ll have to wear these things for the rest of our lives. I’m getting old, and I know this virus is bad, but I don’t know how much other bad stuff is still heading our way.”
I felt the man’s pain. I think we’re all facing the unknown future this Advent, and it’s a bit frightening at times. In our brief talk I asked the man if he attended a church anywhere. He shared that he’d been burned in a church in the past and that since then he and his wife had never gone back. Now, churches aren’t the answer to our life problems, but they should be places that point us back to the living God. Ultimately my conversation with the man got cut off, but if there’s one thing he needs, and that I need, and that we all need – it’s the only true and living God to meet us where we are and help us.
The first Advent of Jesus was all about that, and while today’s scripture in Psalm 146:5-10 isn’t a typical Advent text, it points us to the God who bends down to help His people.
Verse 5 calls us to trust in the Living God. There’s only one Ruler and Power who makes everything and everyone and sustains it all. That’s God Himself, and there is no other. Blessed is that man who knows the Lord!
Verses 7-9 pile up the descriptions of needy people: oppressed, hungry, prisoners, the blind, bowed down, sojourners, widow, fatherless. Each of these categories are desperate people. Pay attention to that pattern: God runs to aid helpless, needy people. He longs to identify with those most in need.
That’s why we read: “the LORD sets prisoners free; the LORD opens blind eyes; the LORD lifts up; the LORD loves; the LORD watches over; the LORD upholds.” All these actions teach us that the Lord God is trustworthy, compassionate, powerful, and good.
But what of the evil we face? What of the organized powers that align against the oppressed? The LORD will bring to ruin the way of the wicked. God Himself will deal with the wicked, making those who hate Him and hate us face ruin.
So, blessed is the man whose help is the God of Jacob – the only living God. No matter what comes, if God is your help, you can confidently look to the future. If God is your help, you are free to rejoice!
When you meet people like that man I met, please tell them about the living God who can be their Help. And remind yourself of who your God is today.