Discover His heart: He hears our distress call and answers with glorious deeds
@ Psalm 77
Asaph, who was the temple choir director and worship leader, was in a bad way. When God’s instrument for worship is distressed, the entire body can easily be affected. According to history, many of the Psalms of Asaph and his descendants were written during enemy invasions of Israel; but whether his distress was personal or about his nation, he was troubled. Thankfully, he knew where to go for help.
“When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted.” (2) Asaph did not seek distractions to help him get through his distress, no comic relief or sleep meds for him. He searched for the Lord and prayed all night earnestly; however, peace did not come. If we’ve been there, we understand his struggle – doing all that we know to do, but seemingly to no avail. He got to the point where he cried out, “I am too distressed even to pray!” (4) I’ve been there also…not fun.
Asaph reflected on the way things used to be and on what he had lost, and this brought no comfort at all. In fact, it caused him to question God’s integrity. Over verses 7-9, Asaph asks several questions, “Has the Lord rejected me forever?” God would never reject anyone who is searching for Him. “Will He never again be kind to me?” God is mercy and kindness. “Is His unfailing love gone forever?” A dichotomy at best, how can unfailing love be gone forever?
Asaph continued his questions, “Have His promises permanently failed?” One might expect lightning to strike for a question like this, but God was full of mercy and kindness to Asaph. God is faithful to His promises. David answered this question when he wrote, “I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.”(Psalm 138:2) “Has God forgotten to be gracious?” How could God forget anything! “Has He slammed the door on His compassion?” God is love and compassion.
Peace finally came to Asaph when he turned his focus to all the great things that God had done. “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.” (11-12) I have been here as well, and I feel the faith rising in Asaph! Then he recounted the great miracle in Israel’s history, “When the Red Sea saw you, O God, it waters looked and trembled!… Your road led through the seas…a pathway no one knew was there!” (16,19) Victory! He will do the miraculous on our behalf. It doesn’t matter the cause of our distress as much as does our response to it.
Remembering what we have lost and wallowing in self-pity will never bring us peace. But recognizing His faithfulness in times past, and how our troubles trembled at the sight of Almighty God will encourage us. Remembering how He provided the victory that no one else could have seen will bring peace to our hearts and the faith to believe that victory is in sight. God has an unlimited number of ways to answer our heart’s cry – we need to trust Him for just one.
Moving Forward: Regardless of what I may face today, I will focus not on what was but on Who is my answer, “In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me.” (Psalm 118:5)
Tomorrow @ Proverbs 7