Sunday, October 5, 2014

Psalm 77 (NKJV) ... To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

Not a psalm of David, this one. We know from Scripture that Asaph was one of the Levites that David put in charge of “the service of song” in the Tabernacle, after bringing back the ark. No slouch when it came to talent, gauging by the number of his songs included in Psalms, alongside others.

I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah

I’ve commented before on the repetition of certain themes in Psalms. In the midst of grieving a loss—or dealing with any other trouble that our lives dish out—crying out to God shouldn’t be treated as a last resort, but our first. Regardless, sometimes the crying out brings relatively immediate comfort, but other times ... it doesn’t.

Sometimes, my soul just refuses to be comforted.

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

There are times we have no words for the trouble that seems to swallow us up. For me, most recently, it was having to say goodbye to my mother after an emergency, life-or-death surgery, with her not yet really recovering and no clue on what her long-term care situation would be ... yet I had to leave to attend another important family event (the wedding of our oldest son).

In the middle of feeling overwhelmed by the emotion of it all, I turned my heart to remembering how God had handled such situations before, and not just a few times, but over and over. Even while remembering, however, I felt like this would be the time God wouldn’t come through ...

Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah

Because sometimes it seems to take forever for God to answer, and we know that we, as humans, are on a limited schedule. What happens if He never answers? Or if His answer is a perpetual “wait”?

10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

This is my anguish ... when there is no clear solution to a situation, when the only answer seems to be to reconcile ourselves to trouble and stress, our hearts can still rest in all the times God has answered us, has delivered us. This is one time it actually benefits us to stop and recall the “glory years,” so to speak ... when the Lord seemed oh so close, when we could hear His voice, when it seemed the miraculous was just a prayer away. Very often, the reality was far less glorious than how we remember, but still ... we are reminded that God was there. He answered.

And He’s still there. He’s just as present as when the Israelites saw His wonders. It’s just hard sometimes to remember that the Israelites also struggled in the how and when.


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