Hello. I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Do you ever have sleepless nights, lying awake and worrying about everything that’s going wrong? In Psalm 77, the poet recounts his sleepless night, full of worry and distress and desperate cries to God for help.
He tells us three things he remembered that night.
First, he says, “I remembered you, God, and I groaned.” No comfort there! He complains to God,
You kept me from falling asleep,
I was too troubled to speak (v. 3).
Thinking about God only increased the poet’s discomfort and distress. Was God present and helpful in his sleepless night? No. Did God sooth his anxiety and send him sleep? No. It seemed to the poet that God was part of the problem, not part of the solution. All the poet could do was lie in bed and groan.
The second thing the poet remembers is when he used to sing songs in the night (v. 6). Night was not always a terror to him. He remembers a singing God’s praises at night. Back then, God was near, he warmed the poet’s heart and lifted his spirits. But that’s not happening any more. Instead of finding comfort in those happy memories, the poet uses them as fuel for despair, asking:
Will the Lord now reject for ever?
Will he never show his favour again?
Has his unfailing love vanished completely?
Has his promise failed for all time? (vv. 7-8).
Like the poet, how we use good memories is a choice. We can use them to praise the “good old days” and to complain that it’s not so good today. We can remember amazing answers to prayer, and resent God’s silence and absence today. We can remember loving fellowship with God, and become bitter that he ignores us now.
The poet soon tires of asking unanswerable questions about where God disappeared to, and he moves on to the third thing he remembers. He says,
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember his miracles of long ago.”
Then he recounts how God freed Israel from Egypt, how he parted the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh’s army, and how he gave them the ten commandments at Mt. Sinai with powerful signs of thunder and lightning.
Our father, we often use our memories in the same way the poet used his.
Sometimes when we lie sleepless at night, we groan when we wonder why you don’t do more about evil. Why are our lives so anxious. Why our health fails. Why those we love are in danger.
Sometimes even the memory of past joys feeds present despair. We remember when we loved to pray, when newfound faith filled us with joy, when hope lifted us out of depression, when we fell in love with you. But where are you now, God? The night is dark, and you do not light it up. It is filled with oppressive silence, and you do not speak. Have you forgotten that you love us? Have you rejected us forever?
And finally, with the poet, we choose a different way of responding to our memories. We choose to use them as building blocks of hope. We remember the dry summers when you sent rain, and we trust you will do that again. We remember the gladness we had in hearing your word, and we trust you will speak to us again. We remember your power helping us conquer sin and sickness, and we trust you to bring us through this long night of despair.
With the poet we remember that:
You led your people like a flock,
by the hand of Moses and Aaron (v. 20).
Yes, God, you are a shepherd. We are the flock. Be our shepherd in the long dark nights of our lives.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.