The Pilgrim’s Petition for Help: Psalm 123

Have you ever been ridiculed for your faith? What about being mocked or slandered? Christian pilgrims are like salmon swimming upstream against the current of the world’s culture. Each month 322 Christians are killed; 214 churches and their properties destroyed; 722 forms of violence are committed against Christians (i.e. beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages). According to the Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. The U.S. Department of State tells us that Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

What are Christians to do when persecuted for their faith in Christ? The writer of this Psalm reminds us to humble ourselves before the Lord, to look up to Him in prayer as our only source for help and mercy, and to patiently wait as we volunteer our service to Him for His glory and His kingdom.

The posture that pilgrims must demonstrate is humility. This posture shows dependency on God as expressed by the psalmist when he writes: “…as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us.” (Psalm 123: 2b) It does not take much effort to look up. It is the simple movement of your eyes. To be a servant of God is not a position to dread but a place of humility before His presence as his servant.

Next, dependency on God leads us to prayer. It is possible that the writing of this Psalm took place when the post-exilic Jews came back from Babylon to rebuild the Temple of God. Psalm 123:3-4 is a plea to the Lord for grace and endurance. These pilgrims were being scoffed at by those who had taken over the land, sitting back and laughing at the Israelites as they attempted to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Because of their dependency on God through prayer, the pilgrims endure because they know the Lord is on their side.

For the Christian pilgrim today, the same truth applies. Humility is the posture that leads to prayer to the Lord for help in time of need. While scoffers may taunt you, the Lord will give you grace to endure so you may reach the prize of the upward call of Christ as you press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:14).

Freedom to Serve through Love

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

How are seniors in churches perceived? One perception I hear is, “I can’t wait to retire so I can travel and play games like our seniors do.” Another is that seniors do very little, assuming that because they are retired from their vocational labor, they have also retired from spiritual labor. Or, that they are too old to serve at church. There is always a little truth in perception, but if one broaden their scope they might be surprised by what they see.

Seniors at my church are examples, not of those who use their “freedom” as “an opportunity for the flesh,” “but through love serve one another” in ministry. Here are some examples in how our seniors serve through love:

  • Sunday school (teaching children and adults)
  • Worship and media (singing in choir, lights, cameras, graphics, instruments, serving and prepping communion, stuffing worship folders, and greeting)
  • Hospitality (cooking, cleaning, waiting on tables)
  • Caring (visiting, praying, preparing and delivering meals to shut-ins, widows/ers, and those who are sick)
  • Memorials and funerals
  • Missions (personal, local, and global)
  • Biblical counseling
  • Retirement centers (leading singing, teaching, visiting, praying)
  • Major outreach events
  • Community Groups

These are just some of the areas from the top of my head that I can think of. The amazing part of their service is that many have been serving for decades simply for the glory of God. I thank the Lord for all these seniors who choose to use their freedom to honor the Lord and who demonstrate love by serving the body of Christ.

I close with this final note. The Apostle Paul expresses through exhortation that if you are able and not serving, find a place to serve. Not only will you be glorifying the Lord, but you will be loving His church. Start using your freedom in Christ to serve and love others today.