Living in Response to God’s Abundance
By Donna McKinney
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
During this week of Advent when we light the shepherds’ candle, we focus on joy — the shepherds’ joy in finding the baby Jesus. Perhaps for some… perhaps for you… joy feels like that hard-to-find, elusive thing, just beyond your grasp, especially this year. The isolation and disruption of the coronavirus, along with the tumultuous election season is enough to cause even the sturdiest of us to feel a little worn down and exhausted.
Today’s scripture, Psalm 126, is one of a group of psalms known as the Songs of Ascents. As the Hebrew pilgrims traveled up to Jerusalem for the worship festivals and celebrations, these were the songs they sang along the way.
This psalm describes how God is able to redeem, restore, and repair the broken things of our lives in ways beyond our imagination. In his book on the Songs of Ascents, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson writes about Psalm 126. Peterson says:
“We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs…. We can decide to center ourselves in the God who generously gives and not in our own egos which greedily grab. One of the certain consequences of such a life is joy, the kind expressed in Psalm 126.”
(Source: Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 97.)
The good news of Christmas is the gospel message that God has sent His Son to rescue us—to bring hope to a worn down, exhausted world. For a “God who generously gives” as Peterson describes Him, this is His greatest gift. Perhaps this Christmas, the best gift you can give yourself and those around you is to choose to live in response to God’s abundance. That same joy the shepherds experienced in finding the Christ child is available to us as we seek God’s abundance in our own lives. The circumstances that discourage us or threaten to draw us down – they might still surround us. But when we center ourselves in God and the hope He offers, then we make the choice to live with joy.
Father God, thank you for the joy I always find when I seek your abundance in my life.