Are you feeling fallen, fragile and forgotten? Has that feeling led you to question the goodness of God? That seems to be the exact way that the writer of Psalm 77 is feeling as the Psalm begins.
Consider the deep pain represented in these excerpts from verses 1-6:
- I cry aloud to God
- In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord
- My soul refuses to be comforted
- I moan
- My spirit faints
- I am so troubled that I cannot speak
On the day that I wrote this Mary and I had a long night the night before. Our recent days were marked by sick kids, sleepless nights, doctors appointments, and other painful present realities. When I left the house we were both worn down. Mid morning I texted Mary and asked how she was doing. Her response was simple, “I feel overwhelmed.” I am sure you know those times when life seems like too much. Most of us we can relate to the raw emotions laid out in Psalm 77. Maybe you have even had similar thoughts. Maybe you know this feeling from years ago or maybe you experienced these feelings hours ago. In times like this we are prone to questioning God. Sometimes question his goodness or power, and others we just question his plan.
In verses 6-9 there are five rapid-fire questions that expose greater depth to the writer’s hurting heart, here are two of the questions from verse 8:
Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
As Christians we know that the bible says God’s love will never cease, that his promises will never fail, that he cannot forget to be gracious and he will never run out of compassion. The writer of this Psalm knew that truth too, but he still asked. Why? He asked because sometimes our circumstances can tell us otherwise. Often pain can cause us to question truth.
Getting our Head Above Water
But the Psalm does not end in despair or questioning. In fact, just 4 verses later everything seems to have changed. The difference in tone and outlook is so different. I mean look at the exclamation in verse 13:
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Is this a different writer? No. Have the circumstances changed? No, but in the midst of the challenging circumstances the writer’s head has been lifted up, they are clinging to God, they are remembering all that is good.
How do we get there from here?
What accounts for the drastic difference between the beginning and the end of this Psalm? What happens between the beginning section and the end section, in verses 10-12, is what explains the difference. In verse 12, it tells of the decision that was made, a decision that makes all the difference.
“I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
The writer went from despair to dependent contentment by reflecting on God’s consistent character and work. It is so easy for us to be affected by our circumstances and to find ourselves questioning God. And the answer when we find ourselves in that place is not as simple as saying “I shouldn’t be doing this! I shouldn’t be feeling like this or thinking this! I should stop.” What we need to get from despair to dependent contentment is to reflect on God’s character and his work by engaging him in his word. In times of trial we are sure to face tailor made lies handed to us from the great accuser and deceiver, and in those times we need to battle lies with truth.
In times of trial sometimes we avoid one of the things that we need most, God’s word, but it is in the pit of despair we need more Jesus, and we need His word to take us to Him. God has promised to feed us by his word, he has promised that it is living and active, that it does not return void. In times of blessing let us feast on and store up the truth, in times of trial may we continue to gather and feed upon his promises daily. Get in the word.
Questions to consider:
- Do you sense your true need for God’s word right now?
- Do you have a plan for how to engage God in his word?
If you don’t have a plan but you are convinced you need one then we would love to help by recommending certain Bible studies, or reading plans, you could go ahead and email one of your pastors or elders now, and in the meantime you could take a deeper dive into Psalm 77. You could consider these two questions for further study: What are the other acts of God that the writer considers and praises God for in verses 10-20? What can you consider and praise God for?
Praying for our good God to meet us in the pit of despair and to lift our heads.
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp