He wanted to sing again. He wanted songs of praise to flow freely and words of worship to be offered up once more before his God. But no matter how hard the songwriter tried, he couldn’t. ‘Cause life was really, really getting hard. Like, “God are You there” hard.
Whenever He tried to remember God, he moaned. When he tried to be still and meditate, rather than priming the pump of wonder he was overcome with weariness. He would lay awake at night, his mind racing so fast and so full of stuff that, if you asked him, he couldn’t even tell you all that was troubling him. No way he could make sense of his current situation. And no way, seemingly, he could break the crazy cycle of despair feeding despair.
He wanted to sing again. He wanted to be immersed in the deep things of God again.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”
(Psalm 77:6a ESV)
But as he tried to find God in his current season he only came up with questions. Will the Lord spur forever? Has His steadfast love ceased? Are His promises done, has He forgotten to be gracious? Have I so angered Him that His compassion has dried up? (77:7-9). Everything in his current life circumstance seemed to be pointing to a heaven which had closed its door to him. “Selah,” he says. Pause. Reflect. Heavy sigh!
But then, an idea. Rather than obsess on this time when God seems so far away, what if, instead, I take every thought captive and focus on a time when I knew God’s presence, when, without question, I saw His hand at work.
Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds.
(Psalm 77:10-12 ESV)
And so where does the songwriter go to remember such a time? What does he determine to recall to know again that no god is great like our God? Where does he direct his mind, what does he chew on, to be reminded that his God is a God who works wonders?
You with Your arm redeemed Your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
(Psalm 77:15 ESV)
The songwriter sings to himself, “Self, behold your redemption! Recall your deliverance. Remember your salvation.” Selah . . . just chew on that.
So he thinks of the God who made Himself known as He walked His people out of Egypt. He thinks of the God who showed Himself mighty as He led His people out of bondage even as they encountered deep waters that seemed unmanageable. The God known in the thunder of the whirlwind. The God known in the lightnings that lit up the world. The God who walked them through deep waters, on route to a land of promise. Just like a shepherd would lead His flock (77:16-20).
When the waters saw You, O God, when the waters saw You, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. . . . Your way was through the sea, Your path through the great waters; yet Your footprints were unseen.
(Psalm 77:16, 19 ESV)
God’s way was through the sea, then. Evidently, it seemed to be that way again.
But been there, done that, recalls the songwriter. And redemption was realized. If God saved me then, he can save me now. If God was with me then, surely, though I don’t sense His presence at this time, He is with me now.
I may not be able to sing about my current season and all its uncertainty, but I can sing of that rescue which I have known, my redemption and His wondrous works to secure it. I may not be seeing the hand of God right now, but we never saw the footprints of God then, either. But He was then, and is still now, mighty to save!
Unseen footprints. Isn’t that how our God operates so often? But unmistakable promises . . . and unchangeable character. So, if God says through His Spirit, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” — and He does (Php. 1:6) — then we should focus on the “good work begun” even when we have trouble figuring out the crazy world we’re in now.
Other than maybe the “COVID Blues,” there’s not much to sing about now. But we can still sing . . .
. . . for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
(2Timothy 1:12 ESV)
There’s always a song to sing. The song of our redemption. The song of our Redeemer. If He saved us then, truly, with God all things are possible now (Matt. 19:25-26).
By His grace. For His glory.
Got 5 more minutes? I was blessed by eavesdropping on this old-time congregation gathering in this old time way (probably not gathering together these day, but will be soon), singing this old time hymn. The words gripped my heart afresh, making me wanna sing too. Check it out if you’ve got the time.