Have you been awake at night overwhelmed with grief, confusion, or anger? Laying on your bed, have you stretched your hands out to God? Yet, He seemed distant – not there?
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; my soul refused to be comforted. When I remember God, then I am disturbed (vv. 2-3, NASB1995).
Asaph, a temple worship leader, writes this Psalm.
He had just witnessed the capture and destruction of Jerusalem. Unspeakable horror as friends were killed or taken into captivity and the city was destroyed.
This Psalm is written for the worst day of your life!
You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak (v. 4).
You can’t sleep at night; but if you do, you wake up at 3 a.m. with thoughts on a treadmill of anxiety. You can’t find answers.
Your grief is beyond words.
Asaph then questions God. He begins by asking, “Will the Lord reject me forever?” (v. 7)
Never feel guilty about challenging God, as Jesus asks the same question while hanging on the cross, “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Asaph lists his questions in verses 7-9. Please note that I have re-phrased these questions to what I’ve heard Christians say in my ministry…
- God doesn’t like me.
- Considering what I’ve done, God can’t love me.
- God does miracles for others but not for me.
- Where was He when I needed Him?
- How could God allow this to happen?
Asaph didn’t deny God. He continued to seek God. In reading Psalm 77:1-6, you will notice Asaph says “I” and “my” about 20 times.
However, during his grief, Asaph determines to change his heart…
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; surely, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work. Your way, O God, is holy; What god is like our God? (vv. 11-13)
Asaph remembers the God of both history and future eternity.
Like Job, who said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15), or as James writes, “Consider it all joy my friends, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2).
Psalm 77 changes in verse 13 from “I” and “my” to “God.” Asaph stops focusing on himself and looks at God.
Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples (vv. 13-14).
Asaph finds peace in grief.
I have witnessed this – during the worst nightmare as believers experience God’s presence. There is something about pain that drives the roots of our soul into God’s heart. We find peace in a God who still loves us.
We will all need Psalm 77 some time. Read it and know it.
Psalm 77, close to the end, says,
Your footprints may not be known (v. 19).
Reading Psalm 77 from the perspective of history, we know that all the trials of Israel are footprints leading to Jesus. We will look back from eternity, understanding that our present difficulties led to the return of Jesus.
I pray that you don’t get stuck in the “I” or “me” of your pain, as it can yield indulgent self-pity.
I pray that in the most difficult moments of your life you will know that…
God has led His people like a flock (v. 20).
Trusting God’s path brings presence, peace, and freedom.