Psalm 80:3, 7, 19 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
There is no mistaking what the chorus of this song is. It is a cry of His people, in the face of great adversity, praying that God would restore them, make His face shine on them, that they may be saved. Three times this chorus is repeated and with each repetition, the passion and desperation of the cry grows. They are in such a difficult situation that the only hope they have is that God would turn His face towards them. The restoration and salvation they seek has two aspects to it.
The first is the physical aspect. They are surrounded by enemies, and they have been battered and bruised by them. They need a reprieve. They need salvation desperately. They cannot take much more of this pain. We also need reprieve from the pain this virus has caused us. So, we ask and cry out for salvation from this virus, from this pain that the world is under. As hard as it may seem for us here, can you imagine the pain that the rest of the world is under? We need a vaccine. We need businesses to be restored. We need life to resume again. And we should be praying for those things. But this is not our greatest need.
The second and more important is the spiritual aspect. They need to be restored to God. They need their hearts saved and transformed by God. They need to return to Christ and for God to return to them. “Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see (v. 14)!” History for the Israelites was the story of their relationship with God. And what was going on in the physical realm often mirrored what was going on in the spiritual realm. When they were prospering, they began to forget that it was because of the sheer mercy and grace of God. And as they forgot, and they persisted in their sins, God would give them over to their sins and their enemies. Finally, they would cry out and in His grace, He would restore them again first to Himself. This Psalmist is in the place of crying out for restoration.
I don’t claim to be a prophet, but can this worldwide pandemic be His way of calling the world and calling us back to Him? CS Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Have we become deaf to the Word of God and the Spirit of God? If so, this too is His instrument of mercy to call us back to Him. And so we pray not just for physical restoration and salvation, but more importantly, for spiritual restoration and salvation. We pray that God would restore us back to Himself. That God would take His rightful place in our lives and in our world. And we would take our rightful place kneeled before His throne. So, let’s cry out with the Psalmist, “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”