Monday, April 18, 2016

God and sleepless nights

I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
Psalm 77:6

Sometimes remembering God's grace and love is hard when life circumstances overwhelm us. Psalm 77 calls us to not let difficulties tempt us to run away from God, but rather to let the worries, pains, and cares force us to consciously remember God. It is written because of an anxious, sleepless night (Psalm 77:4). But even then, this scripture shows how remembering in that moment what God does can get us through such hard times.

It begins with an uncomfortable experience. Sometimes remembering hurts as God seems to be at a distance (Psalm 77:1-3). In those moments faith cries out from the soul as it seeks God (Psalm 77:1-2a), but then feelings confuse the soul leading to pain and confusion (Psalm 77:2b-3). The Psalmist (Asaph) lacks comfort, expresses sorrow, and feels weak, doing the best thing by telling God exactly how he feels.

Continuing in this process, the psalm tells us that remembering not only hurts, but haunts as unanswered questions shake our souls (Psalm 77:4-9). In a fitful, comfortless night there are a litany of questions fired at God in the sleeplessness: 1) Will You turn away forever and never again show favor? 2) Has Your grace ceased? 3) Are Your promises done? 4) Have You forgotten to show grace? 5) Has Your anger shut down Your love?

The questions are shot out without aiming, rapid fire toward God. But God can handle our troubled thoughts as shown in how the psalm then turns...

The psalm comforts us by showing how remembering heals, as we focus on God's wonders and works (Psalm 77:10-20). Asaph writes down a process where he chose to believe the facts about God, despite his feelings. He turned to the truth (Psalm 77:10). From there a growing stability took root, resulting in firm conviction based on the facts of Who God is and what God does (Psalm 77:11-20). It is all centered on five things God does that nobody else can do, and they match well against the five disturbing questions fired at God earlier. 1) The uniqueness of God's work in the world (Psalm 77:11-12). 2) The uniqueness of God's person in His holiness and power (Psalm 77:13). 3) The uniqueness of God's revelation (Psalm 77:14). 4) The uniqueness of God's salvation (Psalm 77:15). and 5) The uniqueness of God's relationship with His people (Psalm 77:16-20).

So when God seems distant, the best thing to do is to drill down by faith and choose to trust His faithful past. He will lead us again in trust, in praise, and to joy.

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