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The psalmists had highs and lows; joys and sorrows just like us. In Psalm 77, Asaph relates a particularly low time in his life where he doesn’t feel the presence of the Lord. He then determines to do something about it.
In verses 1-9 Asaph lifts up his complaint: …In the day of my trouble I sought for the Lord…my soul refused to be comforted. When I remember God, then I am disturbed. When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint…I am so troubled I cannot speak…Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has God forgotten to be gracious or has He in his anger withdrawn?
Many of us have had at least one time in our life where feelings of despair and depression overwhelmed us. We can relate to Asaph’s complaint of discouragement and the inability to hear from God. Days drag on like weeks, as the sadness builds up inside. We can try to bury the feelings deep, but the pain keeps erupting. The darkness is never-ending with no light in sight. We pray, crying out to the Lord, but it is all in vain; it seems there is only silence from Him. Thoughts of God only cause a bitterness in spirit; it seems as though God has forgotten and His grace will never fall upon us again.
In verse 10 Asaph comes to the realization that his grief has distorted his view of the unchangeable God in his mind. He made a determination to focus on God’s goodness and past acts of deliverance: I shall remember the deeds of the Lord. Surely I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work and muse on your deeds. (v 11-12)
Asaph chose a specific time in the life of the Nation of Israel, particularly the crossing of the Red Sea, on which to dwell. A powerful event where God displayed His might and, by His strength, redeemed Israel from captivity.
Following his example, we too can make a choice to focus on His goodness. We can choose to remember the blessings of God; his wondrous deeds and acts of benevolence. I suggest 3 different things that you can meditate on to help bring clarity to your mind:
- Personal blessings. How has God shown His care for you in the past? What specific blessings can you point to showing that He has carried you through other hard times and He will get you through this one?
- The many examples in the scriptures of how God cared for His people. You could choose to study the life of David and how God kept him as he ran from King Saul, or Esther as she overcame fear to do what God called her to do. God’s word is rich with illustrations of his care.
- Read biographies of past saints and see how God worked in their lives. People like Franny Crosby, Elizabeth Elliot, George Meuller, and Gladys Alwaryd just to name a few; regular people like you and me who God used in extraordinary ways. Their stories will encourage your heart and remind you that God works in the darkest of circumstances.
The final verse in the psalm states simply, “You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Asaph’s situation hadn’t been fixed, the hard times weren’t over, but he now had confidence in the Lord and His guidance. As we choose to focus on God’s goodness we will gradually come out of our slump. God’s grace will shine.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3