I grew up in a culture of shame. That meant putting on a mask was essential. Image mattered because you didn’t want to bring shame on yourself but especially upon your family. Therefore, failure was not an option, the truth became subjective and honesty became situational.
One of the things I love about the Bible is how honest it is. The pages of Scripture don’t gloss over the flaws and sins and weaknesses of people. Even the great heroes of the faith are not airbrushed or photoshopped to make them look superhuman. There were liars, murderers, doubters, adulterers… they were flawed. But another thing I also love that Scripture lets us see the real struggles that people have in seeking to follow God. As I have been going through the book of Psalms over the last couple years as part of my personal devotions, I have discovered someone who shares my heart.
That person is a man named Asaph. He was a director of worship in the Temple. His job was to help and lead people in the worship of God. Now you would think he had it all together, but we see even in his writings, he too struggled. There were things he didn’t understand and he penned them for us to read. In Psalm 77:4-9, you can feel the angst in his soul when he wrestles with questions when his knowledge and experience don’t mesh.
We read: “You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “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?”
Even as a pastor, I have had my Asaph moments. When a child dies or when a natural disaster occurs, they all shake us at our core. But thank goodness, the passage doesn’t end in verse nine. As we walk with Asaph we can discover a couple of practices that are helpful to our soul when we find ourselves in seasons of doubt.
One of the ways we are told to stand firm and trust God is the word “remember.” Getting older, we tend to reminisce about the “good old days” but this isn’t what we are called to do. We are called to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Remembering allows us to gain perspective. This is about stepping back from your immediate circumstance and getting a look at the big picture.
Asaph goes on in 11-12: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” The New Living translates this passage, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.”
I want you to notice the words, “remember,” “consider” and “meditate.” One thing we often fail to realize is memory is a friend to faith. If we take the time to recall God’s faithfulness, we can see that He has an amazing track record in our lives. What we have experienced of His faithfulness in the past gives us the confidence to deal with the doubts that come in the present. Why? Because He never changes. As the great hymn proclaims, “Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.” That means when I step back and reflect on God’s track record, my doubts may not disappear, but they do diminish.
Asaph says “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” These events are true. God’s track record is historically verifiable. So, if God can deliver 2 million people from Egypt and He can part the Red Sea and He can make the walls fall down at Jericho and He can let Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come out of the fiery furnace unharmed and He can keep Daniel from being eaten by the lions and Jesus could rise from the dead… then He certainly can take care of me.
I know you might be thinking, “That’s easy to say” which is true. To stop and reflect on God’s past faithfulness is a choice. It is something we need to both choose to do and then we need to respond with trust. It isn’t a trust of what happened in the past, rather it is a trust in the character and power of God. If you are going through a time of doubt, spend some time reflecting on God’s track record.
As Asaph goes on to say in verses 13-14, “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Our God is a God of miracles and wonder and power. That truth is seen spectacularly in Creation.
Isaiah 40:26 says, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
Think for a moment about the neighborhood we live in called planet Earth. Our sun is 93 million miles away and it is just an average size star in Milky Way Galaxy. And it is perfectly positioned at just the right distance to sustain life on this planet.
The sun is 333,000 times the size of the earth and it is so powerful that it takes its light and heat only 8 minutes to travel from the surface of the sun to touch your skin. Every sunrise is a reminder of God’s faithfulness. With amazing precision and majesty, it keeps showing up every day.
It hangs up in the sky as a testimony to God’s bigness and power and creativity. Romans 1 tells us that God has revealed Himself in His Creation. Psalm 19:1-4 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
When I meditate on God’s majesty and when I consider His Creation, it helps me overcome my doubt. In a world where bigger is better, there is freedom in coming to terms with one’s own smallness. Even though your world may seem out of control, the universe isn’t out of control. The great big God of the universe can be trusted. He is not powerless or negligent. If humanity is the crowning achievement of all His Creation, don’t you think He is going to take care of you? May each of us rests in that reality today.