Read Psalm 77
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
As we read through Psalm 77, do you see anything familiar? Perhaps you connect with verse 1- “I cried out to God for help.” Maybe the author’s insomnia and grief-stricken silence in verse 4 hits home? Whatever the case may be, most Christians have felt like the psalmist here at one point or another in our faith journey. We don’t always understand what God is doing and this can be frustrating, but what do we do in these situations?
Psalm 77 is written in such a beautiful style. There are multiple ways to break down the structure of it, but the most common has been to separate verse 1-9 and verses 10-20. We see in Psalm 77:1-3 a person who cries out to God, knowing that only in Him lie the answers. In Psalm 77:4-9 we see someone who is so grieved in their spirit that they can’t even sleep! The author asks questions some Christians wouldn’t dare utter, but now we can see God’s response.
Verse 10 serves as a hinge for this whole psalm. There are many different translations and interpretations of this verse, but the main point is this: This is where the author, having offered up his grief and questions to God and seeing the error of these questions, turns to remembering God’s faithful acts of years past. Instead of focusing on the struggle at hand, the author instead chooses to focus on what God has done for His people before, believing in faith He will deliver them again!
What does this mean for 21st century Christians like us? It serves as a great example to follow! What do we do when everything in our lives seems to be going wrong? We “reflect on all [God has] done, and meditate on [His] actions.” God doesn’t love you less because you struggle. In fact, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth precisely because we humans struggle! He knows we need Him, so instead of holding that over our heads, He proactively stepped into history, did what we could not, and gave us the grace to be with Him! He did this all to be in relationship with us, His people, His Church. Go to God with your struggles, ask Him your questions, lay the darkest thoughts down before Him and allow the light of His love to illuminate them. Who knows, He might just surprise you.
- Reflect on your normal response to grief. Do you take it before God in prayer? Do you talk it over with your community?
- Reflect on what God has done in your life, and the lives of those you know. Where can you see the evidence of His goodness and love?
- What is one way that you can, today, implement what we’ve learned from Psalm 77? Do it!
Father God, we come before You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We have questions, but You are the Source of Truth. We ask that You open our minds to the things of You. Remind us of what You have done for us, of Your faithful love and mercy, and let that baptize our thinking. We pray that this leads to changed hearts, minds, and actions. In Christ’s name we pray, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of the Father. Amen.
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