Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
“. . . Restore us, God!” Psalm 80:3a
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The story is well known how the impact of the storm was magnified when the levies broke and the flooding sent residents of St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward to their roof tops for survival. Some 2,000 people died as a result of Katrina, and some 90,000 square miles was affected.
In July of 2006, our local church youth group went on a mission trip to help rebuild. It was nearly a full year after the storm, and I can remember driving for miles through portions of the city and neighborhoods that were still empty and uninhabitable as we headed to the houses on which we were to work. Our job? Demo!
First, let me say in the hot and humid season of July in Louisiana, “Demo Day” is not as fun and romantic as it seems on the HGTV “Flip or Flop” shows! It was gross, it was physically demanding hard work, and even back in 2006, I was well past my prime physical prowess. I overdid it. At one point I could feel my body drain from energy so significantly that I left the house and went out to lean against the truck. Feeling no better, I feared a trip to the ER may be my next activity. Then, an angel gave me a liter of Gatorade. I drank…and drank…and waited. Then it happened, I began to revive. I could feel a tangible change in my physical state. I would live! I was restored.
In Psalm 80, like so many other texts, we have this image of the people needing restoration, and calling on God to restore them. I have to admit, I have read many such texts, and it doesn’t really give me hope to see this pattern repeat that people always seem to need to be restored, and God is the one who restores. My hope is not in the reality that I “need” restoration; it is in the truth that I am “restorable.” Perhaps it is necessary as humans to know we are in need of the restoration that only God can provide. But for me, the hope lies in the wonderful promise, and the proven experience, that God has created in us the ability to be restored.
Prayer: God of Grace, when depleted in body or soul may I feel your Spirit restore me. Amen.