Readings: Psalm 42; Isaiah 29:17-24; Acts 5:12-16
As the deer pants(longs) for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
[Note: Jehovah Rapha is a Hebrew name for God, meaning God Who Heals.]
It seems Jehovah Rapha is always busy restoring things. All three of the texts for this Advent reading have the beautiful thread of restoration woven through them.
In Psalm 42 David is experiencing a season of deep depression. He likens it to a very thirsty deer running, seeking, and panting for water, for cool springs of life-giving water. His description of the deer as panting is so deep and beautiful, it speaks to others who are also panting. Yes, I can recognize that feeling.
Deep calleth to deep. David knows that he is depressed, his whole soul is cast down. You can almost picture his face, head bowed, eyes cast down, deep frown line across his brows, his skin color waxy gray. He even falls prey to the usual self-talk of those whose thoughts are in trouble, he rebukes himself for his feelings. He looks for comfort from himself, for restoration, but finds none there. Later in his song journaling he realizes that it is when he recognizes his only hope comes from God that he can begin to be fully restored. He sees a glimmer of hope in the covenant of love he and God have made together. Restoration is dawning on the dark horizon. Deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterfalls . . . Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God [Psalm 42:7, 11].
Isaiah could see the darkness that was in the present condition of his people, but he could also see the light of the future coming. Though Israel was down, the time was coming when God would bring a restoration. Every enemy who opposes the onward progress of the work of God will eventually be destroyed. There is hope for even the most hardened and rebellious among us. God is a God of – well – Jehovah Rapha! Hang on, it’s coming.
In Acts the early Christian church is growing rapidly, and many miraculous healings are happening every day. Were they taking the newest medication? Were they on the internet watching the 1.8 bazillion posts and videos about how to heal their bodies? No. The disciples were moving among them, laying their hands on them as the channel from Jehovah Rapha to them for their healing. Their only hope for restoration was from God and it was flowing to them through the disciples, God’s hands here on earth. Jesus healed a multitude while he walked around the last three years of His life, and He gave all the glory to His Father. People were restored physically, but more importantly emotionally and spiritually. Their belief and faith in the one true Healer were springing forth. And you can bet their cast down faces were radiating the joy and peace that can only come through Him.
Perhaps God has not yet restored you? Or at least restoration has not come according to the prescription you wrote Him, or the list of suggestions you gave Him to consider. Perhaps you cannot see it? But make no mistake – He is restoring all, or part of what needs restored. The time it happens is not for us to know. Look deeper. Go check around behind the pain. Something good and right sits there. Can you find your gratitude? How about your faith? Or even better, can you see the faithfulness of Jesus, working always for your good?
I, myself, am a clear example of restoration. Jehovah Rapha led me out of a very deep hole, and into life. I know you have a similar experience. We have nothing to fear unless we forget where God has led us in the past. Right now, we are celebrating the birthday of the greatest restoration expert ever known, that will ever exist. Let us give Him the chance to restore us and let us lead others to His hands this season.
Offered by Linda Benningfield-Hasham, child of God.