And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember all of your wonderful deeds of long ago.
So, if you’ve been following this blog closely, you’ll recognize this verse from an earlier post. It wasn’t the focal verse of that entry, but I have brought it up before. I am bringing it up again because I have been focusing on this verse a lot in my quiet time.
This morning, I came back to this verse, and I started to feel the despair in this psalmist’s (Asaph’s) words.
Here he is; he feels as though God has turned his back on him. Most likely, he feels like giving up because once the Most High has turned his hand against him, what could he possibly do? Asaph was at his wit’s end.
The subheading of this psalm (in the NLT) says that this was for the choir director. Now, these words are extremely personal. They describe the emotional agony that Asaph was going through when he penned these words. None of the songs that we sing today are so transparent.
So often, we refuse to let anyone near the kind of thoughts that were running through Asaph’s head. Yet, he addressed this to the director of the choir. In the quiet of our own room, we might think something like:
When I was in deep trouble I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted.
We would never let anyone know that the encouragement “the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you” meant nothing to us in a moment of confusion or bitterness. When we hurt, we normally bear a sheepish smile and pretend the encouraging words work.
Now, we do see in this psalm that, eventually, those words do work; they work because they are true. Asaph goes on to detail the greatness and strength of his God that will overcome, but he’s not shy in stating that it took some rough nights filled with tears and anguish to get to that point.
This goes back to yesterday’s post. I believe that, sometimes, we guard those parts of us that are hurt and broken. Someone who looks at us might see that feigned strength and be enamored by it. When they encounter their own tribulation, though, and they don’t feel that strength, they might think there’s something wrong with them. They may consider themselves weak when the reality is that their role-models simply have a strong God sustaining them.
In the end, Asaph wanted to make sure that it was God who was great, not himself. When he was in control of the situation, he was in tears. He couldn’t even feel God, but he continued to believe nevertheless. God, then, reminded Asaph of all He had done. Asaph finally found his encouragement because of the works of his God, not anything that he had done.
Sometimes I think that we, as Christians, put on the brave face so often that it doesn’t let the “outside world” (or even the “inside world” of the church) see the God who is our strength.