jehovah rapha - my god restores

15 Jan 2024

I like to start each new year with a truth about God that I'm choosing to proclaim - kind of like an anthem for the year. This is usually something that brings itself to the fore in the early days of the year - God saying "This is who I am. Embrace that".

Last year was the year of El Roi - The God Who Sees Me. I've been so impacted by the story of Hagar. A woman cast out from a place where she was supposed to be looked after, from a household that was under God's favour and left alone through other people's actions. The original church hurt if you think about it! Yet even in the wilderness, in the midst of her suffering, when she felt alone and that there was no hope - God met with her. And she named that place Bethel El Roi - The altar to the Lord who sees me. When we feel alone we can know that God sees us! I made a Spotify playlist on this which I added to throughout the year as different songs spoke to me around this theme - you can listen to it below:

This year is a year of restoration. I've been looking back at some old photos recently in a period of reflection and it struck me how fun a year 2019 was, everything seemed to be great back then but instead of getting melon syndrome (see Numbers 11:5-6) and thinking too reminiscently about the past I'm praying this year for restoration. Not strictly to bring back the past but to build back and build better. 

Jehovah Rapha is a name of God used in the bible traditionally meaning the God who heals but restoration is a form of healing. Maybe Elyiashib is a better term but hey. The first use of the term Jehovah Rapha comes in Exodus (Have I mentioned I'm a sucker for Exodus imagery?). It occurs while the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness (much like Hagar) and they arrive at a place called Marah - a place of bitter water. Moses guided by the Lord places a log in the water and it becomes sweet. This is when God says - I am Jehovah Rapha. He makes bitter things sweet. There is so much to unpack from that one little passage but here are a few things that I've been meditating on recently:

The Tree Makes the Bitterness Sweet - While a physical tree here, the tree also represents the cross and how Jesus can make the bitter things in our lives sweet. God is also a supernatural God serving in a natural world so sometimes we need to use physical things to represent more complex things since we are puny little humans. Where we only see a tree, God sees trust.

Marah, the place where this occurred, means Bitterness. This is also the name Naomi gave herself in the book of Ruth. Yet again through trust and provison - Jehovah Rapha showed up in Marah again transforming Naomi's life.

I find myself a lot thinking about how my life right now doesn't look anything like how I envisioned it when I was younger. I thought I'd be married by now, I even thought I'd have a child by now, yet here I am finding myself at the opposite end of that spectrum. Maybe for me, the God who restores is the God who is restoring my joy, restoring my expectations, and restoring my faith.

There's also a whole element that we can't just be passive and wait for life to happen to us, wait for favour. That's why I mentioned here that I'm really excited to just do stuff; to make an impact on this year and to see what impact this year has on me.

I'm finding myself particularly drawn to 17 by Chris Renzema - a song all about how we can so often think that things were easier when we were younger, that things were simpler before we got older and more jaded. When we're worried that things will just never change and how we haven't turned out the way we necessarily expected.
Oh I know your heart is tired
The floods and the fire
Can make this seem all too far gone
Oh I know your heart is broken
But the last word's not spoken
The best is still yet to come

The best is still yet to come! Let that sink in - Thinking back to melons, manna, and mourning things we've lost, how exciting is it that out of all the things that have happened in the past that we look back on with such longing that there is even better to come in the future. So here's to restoration and here's to the best being still yet to come!

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