Sunday, March 22, 2020
A Video Update from Larry
Devotional on Psalm 77
[open your Bible to Psalm 77]
Psalm 77 is known as a “lament” Psalm written by the man known as “Israel’s poet”. His name is Asaph, and he is the writer of many of the Psalms we read. Psalm 77 is a psalm about a time of trouble, about the temptations the psalmist feels as he thinks God has forgotten him and is absent in his struggles. But Asaph doesn’t just record his troubles and his fear that God is not around, he also speaks of God’s great redemption as he looks back in history to the Exodus story.
It is very possible that this Psalm was written at the fall of Jerusalem, when the city was under siege, the people were starving, many dying, and the hope of their nation failing. The psalmist is looking back to God’s great deliverance in Exodus. He remembers God’s great words on Mount Sinai, and now on Mount Zion he can only witness destruction. Where did God go?
The psalmist is disoriented and fears God’s promise to never leave them nor forsake them has failed. They fear his mercies are no longer new every morning. Grace has been forgotten and love has vanished. In this season of a pandemic we as well can be disoriented.
His first three verses begin with his complaint. He pours out his troubled spirit to God in the night when he cries earnestly for help, but it seems there are no signs of love or compassion and God has cast him away.
[Read Psalm 77:1-3]
The psalmist cries out earnestly all night because he is overwhelmed by his troubles. He shares some hope that God will hear him, but he will not be comforted because it seems as though his faith is enough. God is absent. He remembers God but why doesn’t God remember him?
We can all easily identify with Asaph. We cry out each day in this troubled pandemic season wondering if God has heard our cries. Our economy seems to be crumbling, our family and friends are getting sick, our loneliness is increasing, and at times there seems to be no end in sight. Asaph tries. He tries to remember God, but all he can see is what is directly before him and he is faint, and wearied with no comfort.
Next, we see that like many of us he searches for answers but comes up empty.
[Read Psalm 77:4-6]
In these verses the psalmist’s troubles only seem to get worse. In 77:4 God keeps him awake at night (aren’t we all familiar with this challenge). At first, remembering the “days of old”, the days where God brought protection, provision, and redemption trouble him even more.
Psalm 77:5-6 - The songs of praise and worship he has sung in past return to him, but they are of no comfort. He thinks long and hard about all that God has done, he makes a diligent search in his memory banks looking for some kind of hope and encouragement, but he comes only to the place of asking more questions about God’s goodness.
In these next verses, Asaph comes to the lowest point of his complaint.
[Read Psalm 77:7-9]
Six piercing questions about the goodness of God. Six questions that are common to every person in days of trouble. Six questions that have only one answer, but must be answered according to God’s word.
Asaph is weary. He has struggled to sleep. His soul is troubled. Comfort is fleeting. And God seems to be absent, so it’s no surprise, and understandable why he would ask these questions. Prolonged troubles, sufferings, and unknowns are hard for all of us, and if we are humble and honest, we might acknowledge that during this pandemic we have all asked one or more of these questions about God’s goodness.
If Psalm 77 ended at verse 9 we could easily be depressed, but Asaph doesn’t stop there. His memory is filled with stories of God’s power, goodness, and faithfulness, but now, rather than letting these memories discourage him uses them to strengthen his soul of all that is true of God’s character.
[Read Psalm 77:10]
Asaph makes what appears to be an abrupt shift. Now God is suddenly good. I believe what has happened here is Psalm 119:11 – “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Truth overcomes questions. Hope is found in history as Asaph remembers God’s mighty hand, and trusts that it is still mighty.
Notice in the first nine verses how often Asaph uses the pronouns of “I, me, my”. It is only when he begins to speak “you and your” that God comes powerfully back into focus, and Asaph’s perspective on all that is happening in life totally changes.
[Read Psalm 77:11-20]
Asaph continues to ask some questions, but now they are the right ones. “What god is great like our God”? There is no one!
He then looks back at God’s redemption in Exodus through the plagues, and through the Red Sea. All of creation, Asaph says, heeds the voice of the Most High. His mighty hand has brought them salvation. Is not the same true for us?! All seemed lost on the day Jesus was crucified. Thunder clashed, the earth shook, and Jesus breathed his last. All seemed lost. Jesus passed through death, his footsteps unseen, but, God the father resurrected him from dead! He came back to life to give us new life by his death. Salvation is ours.
The psalmist declares that God leads his people as a flock. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. During this pandemic he is still leading. Let us look to the wonders of his salvation, the power of his mighty hand, the mercies he promises and gives every morning. The troubles we are facing in this pandemic are real, but not more powerful than God.
Devotionals are helpful, but no substitute for the joy of meeting together on Sunday. Do not fret. Do not lose sleep. Don’t fear what tomorrow brings, but remember that the Most High God reigns. We will be together soon. Our first Sunday back at the school may seem far off, but it is not. Hope remains because our hope is in God.
Listen or Sing Along to Turn Your Eyes
A Prayer Guide
Thank God for his unchanging character and faithfulness
Thank God for the gift of technology that allows us to connect with and care for one another as a church
Ask God to stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout our nation and throughout the world
Ask God to protect the many members of our church who are considered "high-risk" if they contract the virus.
Ask God to faithfully provide for any in our church who are adversely affected financially through all that is going on in our economy
Ask God to help us to consistently reach out to one another, to encourage one another and to pray with one another, so that no member of Grace Church feels isolated in this season of "social distancing."
Ask God to give the elders (Larry and Devon) and deacons (Marcelo Del Castillo, Larry Earles, Joey Hutchinson, Chris Mays, and Paul Rohwer) wisdom and grace as we seek to navigate leading and caring for Grace Church during this unique season.
Thank God that soon all the pain, sickness, loneliness, and tears will all be over when Jesus Christ returns for his bride. Ask the Lord to come quickly.
A Sermon to Listen To
Take some time today or this coming week to listen to the below sermon from Exodus 13:17-15:21.