I don’t know the circumstances that caused Asaph to pen this psalm but they sound dire!
-I was deep in trouble
-I prayed but my soul was not comforted
-I am longing for His help
-I can’t sleep
-I can’t even pray
-Has the Lord rejected me?
-Will He never again be kind to me?
-Is His unfailing love gone forever?
-Have His promises permanently failed?
-Has God forgotten to be gracious?
-Has He slammed the door on His compassion?
For 10 verses Asaph cries and shouts out to God in fear, brokenness, hurt and despair. He feels abandon by God. He is wondering what has changed in his relationship with God that makes him feel this way. All seems lost… fear and pain rule his thoughts. And then verse 11 says, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.”
-Your wonderful deeds are constantly in my thoughts
-I can’t stop thinking about your mighty works
-Your ways are holy
-Is there any God as mighty as You?
-You are the God of wonders!
-You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations
-By your strong arm, you redeem your people
Asaph is in terrible circumstances. He is gripped by despair and fear because his circumstances have grown bigger, more awful and all consuming. He isn’t able to see or feel anything but abandonment by God. And then… Asaph remembers. His mind is suddenly redirected. Asaph begins to think on past experiences with God that remind him of God’s faithfulness and goodness. For Asaph, the coin has flipped. His thoughts make a 180 degree turn. His mindset is completely changed from wallowing in his negative circumstances to concentrating on God’s power and might. Remembering truths about God, and setting your mind on those truths is powerful! It doesn’t appear that Asaph’s circumstances changed at all. His problems weren’t suddenly solved. Asaph’s outlook changed because he quit looking at his mess and started looking at God. G. Campbell Morgan said “The message of this Psalm is that to brood on sorrow is to be broken and disheartened, while to see God is to sing on the darkest day. Once we come to know that our years are of His right hand, there is light everywhere.”
I experienced this for myself last week. A friend invited me out to the country to take a walk with her. As we walked, we talked and each shared some things that we had been struggling with. As I was sharing my struggle, I was telling her every angle of my issue to help her understand that there was no human way out of this issue. No one can see the future and the only way to solve my “problem” was to know the exact circumstances I would face seven months from now. I knew there were no answers because I had been stewing over the issue for the past five months and I kept landing in helplessness. When I finally took a breath, she stopped walking and said, “Do you mind if we stop right now and pray together over this issue?” Amazing wisdom from a dear friend at the right time stopped me in my tracks and refocused my weary and frustrated mind on God instead of my problem. As we stood in the woods with the sun shining on our cheeks, we dropped my issue in God’s hands. For me, the relief was palpable. Let’s be clear. I still don’t know the future. I don’t have any idea how my issue is going to shake out in real time seven months from now, but I got my mind off of the problem and on to my God who cares about this issue as much as I do. I can look back over His faithfulness in the last forty years of my relationship with Him and know that He will not abandon me when this “issue” takes place. He will be there, and He will work. I don’t know what those days will look like and I don’t know exactly how He will work, but I know He is trustworthy. Getting my mind off of my problem and on to Him completely changed my outlook. What is filling your mind today with fear, worry or dread? Can you stop, right now and recall His holy ways, His wonderful deeds, His awesome power and His mighty works?