One thing I’ve noticed about the psalms as I’ve been going through them is that a lot of the themes seem to be similar. Particularly, the struggles people have when dealing with an invisible God. It’s kind of comforting, actually.
This psalm is no different. The psalmist starts out by crying out,
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. (1-2)
How often do we do the same? We cry out to God, and yet hear…nothing. And because of our troubled hearts, we can’t sleep. Instead, we start asking as the psalmist did,
“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (7-9)
In short, have you abandoned me? Have you given up on me? Do you consider me a lost cause?
But in the midst of his despair, he cries out,
“To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph…You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (10-15, 20)
In a moment, he thrusts out all thoughts that God has abandoned him. And he says, “God, I cannot believe you’ve abandoned me. You’ve done too much for me in the past to believe that. You cared enough that you redeemed me and my people. And you led us as your sheep through the desert to where we are now. Because of all the love you’ve shown to me in the past, I refuse to believe you’ve abandoned me now.”
That’s faith. It’s believing though we can’t see. Though we can’t see or feel God’s love at a particular moment or time, we believe he still cares. Though we can’t see or feel God’s presence for a season, we hold on to the belief that he is still there and that he has not abandoned us.
But faith is not completely blind. Because when we look back on our past, we can see the evidence of God’s power and love in our lives. So when we feel abandoned as the psalmist did, let us look back on God’s goodness in our lives, and know that the God who was with us then, is with us now.