Our house is in complete disarray. We are replacing old carpets with wood flooring in our bedrooms. Surprises are everywhere, including this quote I saved YEARS ago: “You know what I’m going to do the day after Election Day? Answer: Go to work, be happy, live my life, love others, same country.” Good, but better said, Christ-followers go on living the ordinary Christian life, seeking to know God more deeply and drawing attention to Him and not ourselves. Elections don’t determine our destiny. Our position with and in Christ does.
We return to the Psalms in their order in 2021. Psalm 77 is next, and it just might be helpful if your 2021 world feels unsteady and personal challenges abound. As you pray this psalm, notice the flow from lament (1-9) to reflection (10-15) to celebration (16-20).
Asaph, the writer, is no stranger to trouble. His lament is a “cry of desperation to God about the struggles of faith.” Maybe you have prayed like Asaph. In verses 1-9 he wishes for the way things were. In rapid, staccato fashion, he asks piercing questions: Will the LORD reject forever and ever or show His favor again? Has He stopped loving us—me? What happened to all His promises? Has He forgotten grace and has His compassion been replaced by anger? Whew, what a sacred freedom to ask such hard questions. They are a start.
The turning point comes in verse 10, “Then I said.” “Then” is such an instructive, intrusive word—a transition begins, we turn the corner, we set out on a new path. One translation says, “Then I thought.” John Piper boldly states, “The central biblical strategy for coming out of darkness and discouragement and doubt is a conscious effort of the mind.” And what are his thoughts? He starts with a high view of God. “Then I said, ‘It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed’” (NAS). Talk to yourself and to God, adoring Him for who He is.
Then, our song leader moves to the deeds of God—His “wonders of old…I will meditate on all Your work and muse [ponder] on Your deeds.” It is a great temptation to be intoxicated by distractions and pursuits that we have little time to ponder God and His wonders. A relationship with Christ begs for quality and quantity of time. Won’t you unplug everything and rest a while in His arms?
It is striking what comes next in verse 13: The ways of God. “Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God?” Everything God does is right—and holy. Gulp. Further, He rules and acts by His might, and does so to redeem-rescue those He has chosen (vss. 13-15).
Asaph closes with a rousing celebration from Israel’s history of the character, works, and ways of God. What would we list about God’s faithfulness to Himself and to those who know Him?
Our ordinary life in Christ can be decorated with lament, reflection, and celebration. Onward 2021!