Some of you will know that back in 2011 I went into a black hole of a place in my life. I was low: full of doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. It's not my purpose here to get into what happened and why. Rather I want to give you an example of one of the things that was helpful during that time and in the days since. It could be summed in 3 statements and is the accumulated wisdom of various authors and faithful people in my life. (Some of you have heard this from me before.)
- Talk to yourself, don't listen to yourself.
- Stick with what you know, not how you feel.
- Fight the Devil's lie with God's truth.
It sounds like the Psalmist (Asaph) is in a black hole of his own. Psalm 77:1-4 "I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. (Selah) You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak." Been there before? It's scary, isn't it? But I love that the Psalmist doesn't stay there.
Psalm 77:5-6 "I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, 'Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.' Then my spirit made a diligent search..." Notice how he talks to himself. And here's something that struck me. Fighting the lie with the truth isn't easy. We have to force ourselves to meditate on the truth. It will require a "diligent search." Fighting fear and depression is war; it takes work to preach truth to yourself.
And then it seems like we get a window into some of the troubling thoughts he was struggling with. Psalm 77:7-9 "'Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?' (Selah)" Ever felt that way? Thankfully, these five questions answer themselves. No. God has not forgotten or failed to love his people. He never has and he never will. But when the doubt and worry come, you'll have to work to remind yourself of that reality.
Psalm 77:10-14 "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. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples." He goes on to enumerate some of God's mighty deeds. And so should we - examples from Scripture and history and our own lives. It's hard to look back when the present is so overwhelming, but it's worth the effort to realign our perspective
Beautiful example of the struggling psalmist getting a hold of himself and reminding himself of what he knew to be true about God when what he felt was far different. We would do well to do the same.