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An Advent Song for the Downcast by Jeff Langford

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week One: Ave Maria

Monday, December 4

Psalm 79

“Let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.” (Psalm 79:8b)

Advent can sometimes be a time of sadness rather than joy. Many people feel downcast, burdened by the loss of someone they love, health concerns, or loneliness. The season’s songs and celebrations can be a bitter reminder that – for them – it’s not the most wonderful time of the year.

Psalm 79 is a song for the downcast. It laments the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s temple. The people’s physical and spiritual security has been torn apart by heathen invaders. God’s people look foolish, and God has not bothered to retaliate. The Psalmist’s question is both a plea and an accusation: “How long, O Lord?”  

Psalm 79 expresses feelings that are common to all of us from time to time: doubt, confusion, anger. We can hear the author’s desperation as he cries out both for God’s vengeance and God’s mercy.

This Psalmist could have used a friend who would listen, hold his thoughts in confidence, and walk with him through this dark time.

I’m thankful that this kind of friend is available to us through Second Baptist’s Stephen Ministry. Sara found her calling in this unique ministry, and I continue to marvel at the compassion and dedication she brings to each caregiving relationship. I know Second Baptist’s other Stephen Ministers are the same way.

A few years ago, our church’s Stephen Ministers began offering a “Service of Hope” for people in our congregation or community who feel downcast during the Advent Season. The service doesn’t provide easy answers to people’s struggles; instead, it offers a safe place to be honest about difficult experiences and feelings.

Psalm 79 reminds me that there is hope even in the darkest of times. Stephen Ministry reminds me that hope can be found in the compassion of a friend. Advent reminds me that compassion is coming speedily to meet us.

Jeff Langford

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