Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80:3
One beautiful thing about the Psalms is that they capture every emotion, every feeling, every need that we can have. No, they are not all captured in one Psalm, but when we make our way through all of the Psalms, we discover verses to match every mood we have. As much as we try to be upbeat, and as much as I really am trying to stay positive, there are days when I feel “blah” and even days when I’m riddled with anxiety. I think this is inevitable. It’s also honest. Even the most positive of people is going to have a bad day, or an anxious moment, and that’s okay. We have to acknowledge that.
We’ve also suffered lots of losses this year, especially related to covid-19. Maybe we’ve lost vacations, or job opportunities, social occasions and our overall sense of peace. It is okay to mourn losses. It is certainly necessary to acknowledge them.
No one has a crystal ball for when or how this will all end. A couple of friends who are doctors believe we will be in this posture until at least March of 2021. This would mark one year of the pandemic. This means we might not even be at the half-way point yet of this chaotic journey. It also makes me wonder what the landscape will look like after a year away from certain activities. At church, for instance, what will be left of choir if they haven’t sung in a year, or our youth group, or Sunday school? These are real feelings I have in our parish, and I know other people have them in their parishes, in their homes, in their businesses and in their schools.
Here are a few encouraging points for today: First, while we can and should mourn losses, we shouldn’t dwell on them. Dwelling on loss doesn’t change that a loss has occurred. Worrying about where we “may” be in October, or January or March doesn’t change the reality that there are things to do today, and possibilities for positive things to happen today. If we are too stuck in the negative or too concerned about the future, we will miss the positives and the possibilities of the present. Second, all we can control is what we do today. I can’t control what will happen with our choir or youth group if we don’t have them for another few months. What I can do is call a choir member to see how they are doing, or send an encouraging note to our youth group. Efforts to keep things together now will pay off when things are able to resume later. Right now, we are in a “keep things together” posture more than a “let’s advance down the field” posture and that’s okay. Certain things will be able to advance right now, but others will just hold on. Third, when praying to God, cry out with the deepest desires of your heart. In prayer, today I’m asking God to restore us as we were many months ago, return people to our churches, revive our ministries that had been thriving. I ask god to speak positive things into my mind about the things I am anxious about, to give me the strength to give my best effort and the wisdom to know what the best course of action is.
When we stand in front of the Lord, I don’t believe He is going to judge us based on our successes but on our efforts. Because successes are not always in our control. Covid-19 has assured that for the time being, we cannot fill our church for worship. What I can control is the effort I make in offering services for our community, not how many people attend them. While we wait for restoration of what we had, it is incumbent on us to manage what we still have, get ahead where we can, maintain what can’t be moved ahead, and to mourn what has been lost.
Jesus tells us in Luke 11:9-10, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” In prayer, let us ask for what we need today, and let us ask for restoration for “tomorrow.”
Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved! O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry with Thy people’s prayers? Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. Thou dost make us the scorn of our neighbors; and our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts, let Thy face shine, that we may be saved. Psalm 80: 3-7
On many days, I can scream out today’s Scripture verse from Psalm 80—“Restore us, O God,” and until then, give me patience and comfort. May He grant that to each of us today!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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