Exile is nothing new. All throughout history, and certainly today in most of the war-torn areas in Africa and the Middle East, people have been forced into exile or have fled for safety, finding themselves exiled from their native countries. I think of exile as the ultimate wilderness experience. I can’t even fathom what it’s like to be uprooted from everything familiar and thrust into a completely foreign country or refugee camp with barely enough to survive.
During the exile, God’s exiled people longed for freedom. The psalms from their sacred scriptures began to take on new meaning as they looked forward to a coming ruler from the line of King David who would usher in an eternal kingdom and perfect peace. That hope was fulfilled in Jesus and that’s why the earliest followers went back on these scriptures time and again.
The entire Psalm 72 can be read here. My favorite section from this Psalm is:
For [God] delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
[God] has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence [God] redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in [God’s] sight. ~ Psalm 72:12-14
While exile may not be avoided or may be beyond someone’s control, this passage is designed to give hope to those in exile; they are not abandoned and not forgotten by God.
While most of us will never experience true exile, from time to time we do find ourselves in a wilderness of sorts. How have you kept hope when in the wilderness?
Just as You heard the cries of one in the wilderness centuries ago, may You still hear my small cries when I am in my own wilderness. May I know Your presence is with me. Amen.