Life is unpredictable. It catches us by surprise and our first instinct is to work harder, figure things out and force it into a predictable pattern once again. The effort of managing life in order to achieve the outcome we have determined as best is exhausting. When the end of the rope is reached, despair, hopelessness, anger, depression, fear and a desire to give up can overcome the truth that there is a God who is not limited by anything, and who is able.
The storms of life that whirl around us tempt us to focus on what we see and feel. We are tempted to trust ourselves and other people, instead of trusting in a God who has no limitations, and cannot be contained within the confines of the box we imagine Him in. During these times, it is important to acknowledge how you feel, and pour out your pain before the Lord.
Psalm 77 is a song of lament. The writer gives us a glimpse of his emotional state as he cries out to God in desperation and pain.
“I cry aloud to God;
I cry aloud, and he hears me.
2 In times of trouble I pray to the Lord;
all night long I lift my hands in prayer,
but I cannot find comfort.
3 When I think of God, I sigh;
when I meditate, I feel discouraged.
He keeps me awake all night;
I am so worried that I cannot speak.
5 I think of days gone by
and remember years of long ago.
6 I spend the night in deep thought;[b]
I meditate, and this is what I ask myself:
7 “Will the Lord always reject us?
Will he never again be pleased with us?
8 Has he stopped loving us?
Does his promise no longer stand?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has anger taken the place of his compassion?”
10 Then I said, “What hurts me most is this—
that God is no longer powerful.”[c]
Have you been or are you now in a place where you can relate to what the Psalmist has written? Desperate and feeling rejected, unloved and that God is no longer powerful and doing nothing to save you from your circumstances? Have you experienced sleepless nights, where meditation and scripture provide no comfort? Are you so overcome with worry that you can barely function or speak? Have you asked the questions the Psalmist has asked? Do you wonder if God is actually powerful enough to help you?
Cry out to Him in prayer. Don’t hold anything back…empty your pain before the Lord. Re-write the lament the Psalmist pours out into your own words. God has big shoulders, and wants to hear your raw emotion and feelings.
Can you picture the writer of this Psalm, emotion and energy spent after his lament, choosing to turn from the pain he is experiencing to focus on the God who is able? Notice the determination the Psalmist makes in these verses. “I will,” he states. He is being purposeful, and choosing to remember God’s faithfulness to him in the past
11 I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
12 I will think about all that you have done;
I will meditate on all your mighty acts.
Pain can overwhelm us and put a dark cloud over all the good things God has done. We forget how we have experienced his presence and power in the past. Choosing to remember how the hand of God has worked in your life in the past switches the focus from you and your abilities onto God and His faithfulness and love. Practicing gratitude for all God provides from small to large helps to remind you of God’s goodness. Take a moment and ask God to help you recall how he has been with you in the past. Write a list of the ways you have experienced Him during difficult and joyful seasons. As you focus on the goodness of God, you will find your faith strengthening.
Evidence of God’s goodness, power and love can also be found in how he has dealt with people through-out history. The Psalmist encourages himself further by recalling how God intervened in an impossible situation in the generations that came before.
16 When the waters saw you, O God, they were afraid,
and the depths of the sea trembled.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
thunder crashed from the sky,
and lightning flashed in all directions.
18 The crash of your thunder rolled out,
and flashes of lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 You walked through the waves;
you crossed the deep sea,
but your footprints could not be seen.
20 You led your people like a shepherd,
with Moses and Aaron in charge.
The Bible is filled with how God has done amazing things for people in the past.
- The parting of the Red Sea.– Exodus 1
- David versus Goliath. – I Samuel 17
- The day the sun stood still. – Joshua 10
- Praise and songs of worship brings victory in battle.– 2 Chronicles 20
- Daniel in the lions den. – Daniel 6
- Shadrach Meshach and Abednego walk in the fire. – Daniel 3
- Paul and Silas set free from prison. – Acts 16:16-40
Is there a story that brings you comfort as you see how God moved on their behalf in the past? Put yourself in the story, imagine their fears and anxiety. Take a moment and write down how what God did for them brings you comfort and encouragement. The God who walked with these men and women of faith, is the same God that walks with you.
Friend, where is your focus? Looking back, can you see how God has brought blessings out of difficulties in the past? Are you able to recognize that while you felt you knew what the perfect outcome should be, God in grace and mercy knew better? Can you let go of outcomes and perceived control and trust in the love and goodness of God in your present circumstances?
As you look over what you have written, from the lament through the remembering of God’s faithfulness, my hope is that you have found courage and strength in Christ. That choosing to remember how God has been there in the past will help you have eyes of faith to see that He is with you in your current situation. Trust in God, look for where he has been and is at work, and listen for his voice of love.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3