“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
The Landscape can change so quickly in a life. One moment we’ve got the world figured out. But, in an instant, our life plan unravels. Once thinking we knew where we were headed, we discover how throughly wrong we were.
Rethinking – rescheduling life begins. Alternative landscapes fill the horizon and with them, a different take on our future. Some landscapes are filled with beauty. Others barren, until one discovers, even there, signs of grace – signs of new life – signs of hope.
The year 587 BCE Jerusalem was overrun by Babylon. The temple destroyed, the city leveled and it’s people exiled to Babylon. The pain of exile is felt so clearly in the 137th Psalm.
“By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows[ there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?” Psalm 137:1-4
Living in Exile, people found hope in the ancient promises given to Abraham and Sarah. For they remembered not only the promise, but the many challenges Abraham and Sarah faced. Yet God had been faithful. This promise, sustained them in the trauma of exile. A hope that the covenant begun with their distant ancestors, was still true. Even for those torn from their homeland, forced to live as slaves in Babylon.
Remembering challenges and difficulties we have faced, and how God brought us through them, is an antidote for doubt. We survived our past hurts, heartaches and fear as God walked with us in them. We call to mind those moments lived on the brink of disaster, with life held in the balance, wondering if God had abandoned us. Retracing our steps, from the vantage point of time, we see God’s hand at work. Often not as we imagined God should be working, but in that uniquely perfect way that God does. There is this certainty that even one’s doubts will never separate us from God, but are part of the journey itself.