But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago . . . By your strong arm, you redeemed your people . . . You led your people like a flock of sheep.
Oh, how quickly we forget. One minute we are singing Sunday morning praises with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the next, we wonder if God is still with us. I wish it didn’t happen that way. But I am coming to realize that godliness isn’t so much that we never forget. It’s that our faith inclines our hearts and minds to always remember.
It’s why I love Asaph. He doesn’t get a lot of airtime, getting overshadowed by David, the Shepherd King, Goliath-killing, “man after God’s own heart” kind of Psalmist. Asaph had a very important role among God’s people, though. He was chief among the Levite musicians. In other words, the leader of the temple worship team. Now, someone like this would surely always have nothing but confident praise on his lips, right? Well, not exactly. Asaph was no walking Christian bumper sticker, always “climbing up sunshine mountain,” as we used to sing in Sunday School. Oh, he loves the Lord with all of his heart. But he’s a real guy, 100% human, a red-blooded Psalmist. He’s my kind of guy, a man of passion. When he struggles, he goes as deep as the valley will let him. And when he trusts and praises, he does it at mountaintop levels. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about.And from Psalm 73-83, he lays his heart out on the pages, for better or for worse…a lot like my prayer journal (which I am thankful is not available to the public, like Asaph’s is).
Asaph wrestled with God, and God always won.
In Psalm 73, he was struggling with a situation so much that he said that seeking to live wholeheartedly for God was a waste of time. He was troubled, big time. He was bitter. He was senseless, “like a beast” before the Lord. Wow. I’d love to hear those prayers (or maybe not).
“Until I came into the sanctuary of the Lord,” he says. Then he remembered how things really are.
Here in Psalm 77, the same thing. Whatever was going on, it was deeply disturbing. He says in verses 2-4 that he groaned; he was too troubled to speak; he couldn’t sleep. Because the God he knew wasn’t behaving like he thought the God he knew ought to behave. Verses 7-9. Is this it, Lord? Are You rejecting us forever? Has Your unfailing love finally failed? Is there no more lovingkindness in Your tank? Have You forgotten how to be merciful?
“But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.”
Not how He has always fixed every situation to make Asaph’s life nice and cozy. No, Asaph’s mind travels back to where he finds unmistakable evidence of God’s goodness and mercy…he looks back to the Lord’s redemption of His people.
“Lord, You chose us. You pursued us. You delivered us from slavery . . . just because You loved us. And like a shepherd, You led us through the wilderness and to life – lovingly, faithfully, and patiently (if you want to see how patiently, read Psalm 78). That’s enough for me to trust with.”
Asaph knew where to go…better yet, he knew to Whom he should go. It’s not that he never forgot. It’s that eventually, his faith inclined his heart to always remember.
Lord, when I make my regular rants before You about how You ought to run Your world, and specifically the part of Your world called the Carroll family, eventually I realize the rants are leading nowhere. And You lead my heart once again down a road to a place called Calvary. And I remember. You chose me. You pursued me. You delivered me. And You have lovingly, faithfully, and patiently led me through the wilderness and into life, time and time again. And it’s enough for me to trust again. Oh, for grace to trust You more! In Jesus’ name, amen.
– Dave Carroll