Sometimes we may be so overwhelmed by life’s problems that we find it hard to see or feel evidence of God’s love. In such dark moments, where do we turn?
John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”. Notice that John says that God “loved” us, not He loves us. John’s use of the past tense here doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us today—He does! Rather, it places emphasis that the one undeniable and unchanging proof of God’s love for us is in the gift that He has already given us: His Son to save us from our sins. Hence, in moments of despair, we can look back at that wonderful salvation and know that God is on our side.
Psalm 77 conveys a similar lesson. Here, the psalmist is in deep distress. He does the right thing in turning to God, but this only increases his torment because God does not comfort him (v. 2).
He has endured many sleepless nights and reached a point where he can’t find the words to say or the prayers to pray (v. 4). He casts his mind back to different nights when joyful songs were on his lips (vv. 5-6). But this memory only makes his present suffering even worse.
The psalmist asks God a series of questions (vv. 7-9), reminding Him that He had promised to show His people favour, mercy and compassion. The psalmist hopes that these questions will provoke God to help him.
Verse 10 is the turning point in the psalm. Until this point, all his thoughts were about his problems. Now he decides to think differently, “I will consider all your works” (v. 12).
He needs God to work a miracle in his life, so he remembers the most dramatic miracle of all. He recalls how God saved His people from Egypt, climactically through the parting of the Red Sea (vv. 14-20). If God powerfully delivered His people then, He can deliver them today, too.
As we read this psalm, we might feel uncomfortable at how this sufferer speaks to God. He isn’t just bold, but accusatory, even disrespectful. Yet, the Lord does not rebuke him. Actually, God has ensured that this psalm is kept in the Bible for us. While there is a line not to be crossed in speaking to God (for example, Job will never curse God whom he knows has permitted his trials), the presence of this psalm gives us divine permission to be honest in speaking to God.
Where do we go when we feel disappointed with God? We go to the place where “with your mighty arm you redeemed your people” (v. 15). For you and me, that’s the cross.