The Rev. Dan Puckett: There is great benefit in remembering the works of GodPublished 10:17am Friday, August 21, 2009
Psalm 77 rehearses a familiar theme to us. The psalmist was in distress (Psalm 77:2), he cried to God for help, and he cried for God to hear him (Psalm 77:1). The psalmist stretched out his hands through the night, comfort did not come, he groaned, and his spirit grew faint (Psalm 77:2-3).
This is not unfamiliar territory for the Christ-follower. We believe there is a God. We believe God is in control. We believe God loves us. Yet, the heavens seem silent at times; God seems distant. Our life journey is a parched desert; we are looking for some relief.
The distress intensifies for the psalmist in verses 7 and 8: “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?”
These are hard questions. We all ask them – maybe not out loud lest somebody thinks less of our spiritual walk, but all these things go through our minds when trouble comes.
We are human. We live in the “instant” generation. We want communication, news, and everything else close at hand. We want God to fit into our box, to twitter Him in our prayers and have Him respond in “instant messaging.” God has not bought into our world methods. He is God; we are not.
The psalmist did not give up and cast God aside; he simply took another tack in his search for God. Rather than focusing completely on his dilemma, he began to focus on God. He said, in Psalm 77:10-11, “To this I will appeal . . . I will remember the deeds of the LORD.”
The psalmist began to meditate on the miracles of God. He remembered how God delivered the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage where they had been slaves for 400 years.
He thought of the 10 great plagues that literally decimated Egypt, but left the Israelites untouched. He remembered the parting of the Red Sea, how God’s people walked through on dry land and the Egyptian army was drowned when the walls of water broke down after Israel had passed through. The psalmist remarked, in Psalm 77:19, how all these mighty acts took place: “Your path led … though Your footprints were not seen.” The point is, who else could do such mighty acts other than the Living God of Heaven.
The process the psalmist went through during his distress is exactly what we are to do when we are in similar situations. If we are Christ-followers, we can look back to the mighty acts of God, the greatest of which is our personal salvation from the curse of sin.
The conclusion of the psalmist, in Psalm 77:20, brought great comfort to him and should comfort our hearts as well: “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” We are sheep; God is the shepherd. Sheep do not think about what they are to eat or drink; they just follow the shepherd.
The Bible is our book of memories – memories of the great works of God and His unfailing love for His people. We must remember.
The Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministries. He writes a weekly column for the Niles Daily Star.