Christian faith is not always easy. Sometimes it is really, really hard.
I really appreciate how honest Asaph is about the wrestling involved in the life of faith (v1-9). There are sleepless nights, with disturbing thoughts that won’t be comforted (v2). There is groaning & exhaustion (v3-4). There can be questions and doubts about God (v7-9: Why? Has he given up on me? Is he angry with me?).
Crying out and groaning are natural and healthy reactions to the cruelty and evil that we might face in the world. It’s ok to cry and to ask God “why?”. Furthermore, it is important and honest to do so.
It must not end there, however. What then helps Asaph is remembering what God has done in the past (v10-20). When we are gripped by the darkness and cruelty of others, it’s hard to guard the mind and heart. Reflecting on the works of God is what helps. There is more than enough evidence in God’s powerful deeds for his people in the past for us today to trust in his character that was revealed in those acts. He is holy, great, powerful, the Creator, the Redeemer. Verse 19 is a great comfort when faith is hard: his footprints are not always seen, but he is still leading the way through to freedom.
PRAYER Thank you Lord that you are beside me when I can’t sleep. Thank you that you allow me to groan and you can handle my questions. When I read of your powerful acts, help me to remember that you are the God who performs miracles, and you will lead me through. Amen.
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.
1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 ‘Will the Lord reject for ever? Will he never show his favour again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished for ever? Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’
10 Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’
13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
15With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.
17The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.
18Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.
19Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.
20You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.