Thanksgiving and Deliverance

by Julie Johnson

A Song of Ascent

1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
-let Israel now say-
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

–Psalm 124

In the midst of my writing, Hurricane Matthew with raging waters and sweeping torrents attacked. My travels skimmed the edge of devastation – I saw evidence of trees down, roads closed, power out, evacuations, flooding, and damage. Water holds mighty power both in our times and biblical times.

I see a parallel with the ease in which our Advent preparations can become a swirling whirl of activities that push us off course and spin us round and round. This psalm reminds us to approach Advent with gratitude for God’s past help and focus on Him now as our source of help and strength.

When I can focus on Christ as the center of celebration instead of focusing on ways I may come up short in decorating, baking, wrapping, shopping, entertaining, writing … preparations can come from a place of joy that then spreads Christ’s joy.

Dear Lord, as I prepare my heart to celebrate the birth of Jesus, help me to remember times you have been by my side and ways you have been my helper. Give me strength to escape the earthly snares of this season and faith to keep above swirling demands that can sweep me away instead of holding fast to you and your promises. Amen.