STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Opening Prayer

I come to your Word in humility today, Father, acknowledging my weakness, confessing my sin, and trusting in your love. Please meet with me, forgive me, and teach me.

Read PSALM 77

Psalm 77[a]

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

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.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“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?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 77:1 In Hebrew texts 77:1-20 is numbered 77:2-21.
  2. Psalm 77:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 9 and 15.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Reflect on key areas of your life in this new year. Where are you hoping for change? Record your intentions and display them as your agenda for daily prayer.

Think Further

In the middle of a story it’s hard to trust God for how it will end. When, in the Second World War, the expeditionary force was stranded at Dunkirk, it was impossible to see a British Army returning to Europe to confront Nazi Germany. Despair was a reasonable response.

The writer of this psalm is disorientated; perhaps writing at the time of the Exile, when nation, king, and the temple were all lost. Prayer is leading nowhere: feeling neither heard nor helped, seeking God leaves the writer sleepless, wordless, and comfortless. The psalm reminds us how hard it can be to pray when stuck in the middle of a story. It reminds us that the Bible doesn’t just contain God’s Word to us but also our words to God, including bitter and despairing words. Though unanswered, this lament gives us clues as to how to wait for an answer. In verses 10–13 the writer determines to remember what God has done, as a basis for believing that the despair he was feeling couldn’t be the last word. The Exodus (vv. 16–20) is still real, even in the midst of Exile, and there has to be a way forward even if it’s as yet unperceived (v. 19).

As I write in this new year, this psalm is an uncomfortable one, but it reminds us that the experience of Exile was not God’s final word. Nor will a pandemic be the final word, nor even a war in Europe. As Paul reminds us, God has kept all his promises in Jesus Christ.1 Just as the psalmist remembered the Exile, so, for us, remembering Jesus, crucified and risen, helps us to respond in praise. However dark the middle of our stories might seem, we rest in the presence of the Lord, who will never leave us nor forsake us.

Apply

Despair has been closer to many of us over recent years. Alongside your agenda for prayer, record your reasons for thanksgiving and hope in God’s promises.

Closing prayer

Almighty God, thank you that you are always ready and able to come to my aid. Help me to trust you, no matter what you have in store for me.

Last Updated on January 8, 2024 by kingstar

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