Today’s reading: Psalms 74-77.
Days of trouble must be days of prayer; when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek him till we find him. Matthew Henry
Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. Sometimes it isn’t just a little rain that falls into every life; sometimes it’s a flood. Not to be a pessimist, but all of us have faced problems in our past, are dealing with them now, or will confront them in our future. At those times we tend to struggle with doubt. Why is God letting this happen to me? Where is he, anyway? The Psalmist experienced the same struggle, and expressed his anguish in a personal way as the Psalms always do:
“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” “Selah” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” Psalm 77:7-10
Have you experienced the years of the right hand of the Most High? That time when God showed his power strongly, when he did the miraculous, when he delivered? The Psalmist didn’t say that he had seen it himself, but he remembered what others had told him about God’s strength and might, and by faith he claimed God’s power over his own trouble.
He looked at God’s work instead of his own worries. If we only look down at our problems, they can overwhelm us. If we look up instead and focus on all that God has done – for us, for those we know, for those revealed in the Bible – we will find hope and faith to deal with our fears and face our problems.
He remembered God’s character and his own crisis faded. The Psalmist remembered God’s holiness and greatness. Because he is holy he will do what is right. Because he is great he is able to do it. We could add to the list God’s qualities of mercy, faithfulness, lovingkindness, and compassion. God’s character doesn’t banish problems, but these qualities give us assurance that he will help us overcome our trial.
He knew God delivered and that calmed his doubt. The Psalmist lived in a nation that had come out of slavery and across a sea of water and wilderness. The land and people around him spoke loudly of God’s previous work on their behalf. God had delivered before; he would deliver again.
The Psalmist closed by saying, “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” That describes our days of trouble well. We find ourselves up to our necks in rough waters, and God provides a way of escape, but he remains unseen. He has done it before for me. He will do it again for you.
The hound, when he hath lost his scent, hunts backwards and so recovers it, and pursues his game with louder cry than ever. Thus, Christian, when thy hope is at a loss, and you question your salvation in another world, then look backward and see what God hath already done for thee. Some promises have their day of payment here, and others we must stay to receive in heaven. William Gurnall
Image by Colin Davis on Flickr, CC by 2.0