When we are in the throes of suffering, sin, or trials of any kind, we so often forget two important things: the power of God and the power of remembering. Many times it’s as if we have never entered a hard valley or steep incline. Our mind immediately shuts off all memory of our past trials and how God’s mighty hand intercepted our fears and anxieties and even gave us a stronger faith. We become lazy in our disciplines and mind battles, and then, WHAM! Here we are again! Needing to learn the same truths, but just in a different way. There are two specific Psalms that I would like to flesh out in this article: Psalm 77 and Psalm 114.
In The Pit of Despair Where Hope is Lost
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the days 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.
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”
Psalm 77:1-4, ESV
These 4 verses are the perfect description of the body, mind, and spirit of one who is suffering and is spiraling down into hopelessness. We feel no comfort. Sleep leaves us and refuses to ease our eyelids shut. We feel faint, dry-mouthed and lacking in any words. As troubling and difficult these verses may be to read, just seeing them written in God’s Word should bring about a small amount of hope that the Lord recognizes these are real and tangible. But we must not stop there. We must seek and remember.
Matthew Henry reminds us, “Day of trouble must be days of prayer; in days of inward trouble, especially when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek Him, and seek till we find Him.”1The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon, pg. 328
We Must Consider and Remember
“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. 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.”
Psalm 77:5-6 and 11-12 ESV
So how do we diligently search? How do we choose to remember?
First, we turn to the written Word of God. Let’s turn our focus to Psalm 114. The man who penned this Psalm was recounting the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River that Yahweh had done for the children of Israel so they could walk across on dry ground. He doesn’t focus on what the Israelites were doing or not doing. He brings our attention to the power of Almighty God and how the creation was directed, and how they even obeyed their Creator.
- The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. V. 3
- The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. V. 4
- The earth trembles at its Creator’s presence. V. 7
- Rock can spew forth water at His command. V. 8
In considering our Creator’s relationship with the created world, we should be very quick to see His power. What a magnificent power! Psalm 29:3-5 brings His power to our remembrance as displayed in His mighty voice.
“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.”
Psalm 29:3-5 ESV
This voice can break through the hardest hearts of mankind. This voice can pierce the most callous mind. This voice is the life-changing voice of our Creator.
His power in creation is highlighted in Isaiah 40. The entire chapter speaks of the power and majesty of God. He cannot be likened to anyone or anything. Verses 25-26 ask us a question, “‘To whom will you compare Me, that I should be like him?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see; who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because He is strong in power, NOT ONE IS MISSING.” (emphasis mine, ESV).
So much of God’s Word is recounting His mighty acts. Seeking God’s Word helps us to think on truth, not merely be tempted to trust our emotions, which are completely devoid of truth apart from the Word of God.
Secondly, an important discipline in remembering is to think back on our own lives. As I have engaged counselees in this discipline I have encouraged them to not only start in their trial now but also think back to what God has done in the past and journal about it. It can be a list form or prayer form, or journal form. It can even be a wall set aside in one’s home to display front and center what God has done in the days, months, and years past. This practice has been invaluable in my own life as I have encountered tremendously difficult trials. As I walk past my own wall of remembrance, I cry out to Him in my present trial and then look and see all that He has done in the past. This remembering centers my heart on Him instead of my circumstances. My faith increases, and I surrender in the here and now, sometimes on a much-needed daily basis. It also shows me how much he has changed me, as we well know, these hard times are tools He uses to make us more like Him.
“O Lord, touch Thou the mountains and they shall smoke; touch our lips with a coal from Thine altar, and our mouth shall show forth Thy praise. Smite, Lord, our flinty hearts as hard as the nether millstone, with the hammer of Thy Word, and mollify them also with the drops of Thy mercies and the dew of Thy Spirit; make them humble, fleshy, circumcised, soft, obedient, new, clean, broken, and then ‘a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.’”2Quote from John Boys, The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon, pg. 491
Let this be our prayer as we walk with Jesus in our trials and strive to come alongside others in their fear, hopelessness, anger, and grief.