THE STRUGGLES OF FAITH
Loving Father, You bring life from death, joy from sorrow and hope from despair. I praise You for being a turn-around God.
Read PSALM 77
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 forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
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.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, / lead thou me on. / The night is dark, and I am far from home; / lead thou me on” (John Henry Newman, 1801–1890).
This psalm relates to Israel, yet also depicts a very personal struggle with melancholy and depression (1–10). We are not told the source of the distress, but we realize that the writer is deeply troubled, struggling with doubt and insomnia, his emotions in knots. Many of us know what anxiety can feel like at 3:00 a.m. and have shared this all-consuming agitation. It robs the psalmist of any peace with God. Superficial consolation is useless. Even reliable ways
of finding God’s solace (“songs in the night,” 6) no longer help. He can only think that God is angry and unloving, that he has changed and is unreliable (7–9)—a terrifying option. Any of us who have had our faith challenged to the core, by fear or depression, might hear an echo of the turmoil of our own mental state.
It takes a massive effort of will (11) for the writer to pull himself back from the brink of unbelief and into a different mindset. He will remember past blessings; he will meditate on God’s miracles. It is the psalmist’s own deliberate decision, reminding us that even in the depths of doubt we can choose to believe. We can decide to trust in God’s existence, even with unresolved doubts and weak faith. God knows the struggle of such resolve and honors it. Once the psalmist makes that decision, the psalm slowly turns from a lament into a
hymn of praise.
Verses 13–20 rehearse God’s protection for his people and his power over creation: the quaking earth, the flashing lightning. The people, by contrast, are vulnerable, needing guidance: a flock of sheep (20). Yet even here, human doubt is subtly acknowledged. For, though God leads our path, his footprints are not seen. We will always need to trust.
What have you seen of God’s goodness and love today which might help to sustain you through darker times?
Merciful Lord, through all the ups and downs of life, You have promised to be with me. That is all I need!