Appeal To This
It’s frustrating how circumstances tend to shape our view of God’s love and faithfulness. I guess that’s our default condition. I know that for me, at least, it’s a constant battle. I think that’s why I love the Psalms so much. I feel like I can relate to the brutal honesty that many of them communicate—honesty about the true condition of the heart—honesty about what their feelings are toward and about God when life calls an audible. The doubts. The questions. The mental and verbal wrestling match that happens in the heart of the Psalmist, where the two opponents are circumstances, in one corner, and the character and nature of God in the other.
Psalm 77 is a great example. See if you can relate to this.
Verses 1-9 explain how Asaph, the author, has experienced trouble in his life. The trouble is apparently so bad that, in verse eight, he wonders,
“Has his (God’s) steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?”
Verse nine continues with two more compelling questions:
“Has God forgotten to be gracious?” Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
Maybe these are questions you’ve wrestled with due to the onslaught of negative circumstances in your life. Maybe you’ve thought it, but were too afraid to verbalize it. Maybe you’ve journaled it. Or maybe you’ve sat over coffee with a trusted friend or pastor and hashed it out.
In the midst of the bitter doubt, in the midst of the paralyzing fear, and in the midst of the haunting questions, there is hope.
The hope for Asaph comes in verse 10.
“Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’”
Did you see it? The hope is found in the appeal to something outside of himself and his circumstances. The hope is that even though his circumstances communicate one thing, the consistent character of God communicates quite a different thing.
Notice verses 11-20. He appeals to the consistent character of God.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord.” V.11
“Your way, O God, is holy.” V.13
“You are the God who works wonders.” V.14
“You with your arm redeemed your people.” V. 15
“When the waters saw You they were afraid.” V.16
“The earth trembled and shook.” V.18
“Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters.” V.19
Sometimes the way of God is straight through the sea. Through the path of the great waters. And though the way seems treacherous, and though it may cause you to ask, “Has God forgotten to be gracious?”, the consistent character of God speaks differently. The consistent character of God reminds us of His faithfulness.
The consistent character of God reminds us of His faithfulness.
“I will appeal to the years of the right hand of the Most High,” Asaph said. In other words, “He has been faithful in the past, so I know He will be faithful in the future. He has brought me this far, and He won’t leave me now.”
Whatever your situation is. Whatever circumstances may be causing you to doubt the love and faithfulness of God. Stop doubting. Think back on your life. Think back to that time when you weren’t sure how you were going to make it. When you didn’t know where your next paycheck was coming from. When through tears you gave your toddler the very last box of mac and cheese not knowing when your pantry would be full again. When you lost a loved one. When you were rejected for Ph.D. candidacy. When you were fired from your church. When you were bulldozed in a downsize or merger. When you were misunderstood. When you were slandered against. When you found out you had cancer. You fill in the blank.
How did you make it through? How did you survive? Was it not because of the faithfulness of God? Was it not due to His steadfast love? Was it not because He was the one walking with you through the sea, through the great waters? Definitively, yes!
Friend, whatever your situation or circumstance, appeal to this: He has been faithful in the past. He will be faithful again!