Come Thou Long Expected Jesus 2
“Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.”
Who is God to you? As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, who is God to you, “as you understand Him”?
It’s an important question and one that we must revisit time and time again.
For God’s people Israel, which literally means “those who wrestle with God,” (in the Hebrew) God is a source of “strength and consolation.” Throughout their history and experience of divine redemption, God’s strength is put on display in countless ways. So much so that the Old Testament narrative can feel almost repetitive at times. We see it especially in characters like Moses and David. Each are unlikely heroes and, yet, each does something heroic. Yet don’t be fooled in thinking that it was their prowess which granted them success. It was God who was the true hero in each of these stories. Yes, Moses led God’s people out of Egypt, but the great redemptive event of the Exodus—from beginning to end—was ultimately the action of God. We know this because God said as much, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)
The same could be said about the little shepherd boy, David. When David faced what seemed like insurmountable odds in his duel with Goliath, David says boldly, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel…This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…for the battle is the Lord’s…” (1 Samuel 17:45-48) Spoiler alert: David wins, but it was not David’s pinpoint accuracy with a slingshot that ultimately fell the giant; it was God who gave him the victory.
In the New Testament, another character comes into view who finds refuge in God’s strength: a young girl named Mary. The task she was given was perhaps the greatest ever: to carry the Son of God within her womb. Upon hearing this news, Mary responds with a mixture of fear and excitement, leading her to break out in song (The Magnificat). At one point during her song, she sings, “He has shown strength with his arm.” (Luke 1:51) Despite all the uncertainty that lay in front of her as she waited patiently to give birth to the Messiah, Mary found consolation in God’s strength.
Do you know God as your strength? When we are facing uncertainty or feel as though we can’t endure anymore, remember this: God can give us strength during our time of weakness. So like Moses, David, Mary, and with St. Paul, we can say with confidence, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)