Today's Lectionary Text
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, that he may 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.
I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have displayed your might among the peoples.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah
When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
the very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies thundered;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Most of my life, I have had insomnia. I had a hard time sleeping as a child, and things just got worse when I was in my teens. I learned to survive on little sleep, but I also knew many dark nights of the soul, when my troubles, thoughts and sorrows would overtake me. I used to joke that I always slept like a baby: awake every two hours, crying. My sleeping got much better as I grew older and grew in my faith. I know it seems trite to just say “hand your worries over to God.” Yet faith gives perspective, and perspective is the great antidote to anxiety.
The part of this Psalm that we skip over in this selection finds the speaker digging deeper into despair, recalling many days of trouble and many sleepless nights. The Psalmist wonders if God has forgotten to show grace, if kindness is gone forever, if compassion has been swallowed by wrath. Then, instead of recalling the many nights of anguish, the Psalmist turns to the history of God’s grace, and kindness and compassion. And it is in that history, even though it is a national history and not a personal history, that gives the Psalmist perspective in the face of anxiety. In fact, it is that God has been shown in history to be graceful and kind and compassionate, that gives us faith that God will be so to us, even though it seems we are abandoned by God.
We live in anxious times, and the worst thing to say is, “Trust in God and everything will be all right.” No, but God is faithful. God will redeem God’s people. God will take the side of those who suffer under Pharaoh’s whip. God is with us when we walk with God. Meditate on the great deeds of God, the great grace of the cross, the great kindness to a sinful people, the great compassion for those who seek God’s presence. What god is so great as our God?
Prayer for Reflection
Oh Lord, as we call out in our dark nights of anguish, let us know your grace and kindness and compassion. May we be comforted in your history of faithfulness, and your abundant love. In Christ name we pray, Amen.