Daily Devotions

Despair No More

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"Has his steadfast love ceased forever? Are his promises at an end for all time?" (Ps. 77:8)

"I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old." (Ps. 77:11)

 The psalmist is in agony, and is raising doubts about God in the midst of the exile. The "trouble" and "distress" in verse two is not described. Perhaps it is left undetermined because it can speak to many circumstances, in many different times. Most all of us have suffered to such a degree, at one time or another, that we wonder if "steadfast love" will ever return.

 

In those moments of fear and despair, the psalmist calls us to remember. The psalmist harkens back to Scripture to spark divine memory of God's merciful hand in the world. Later in the Psalm, the writer remembers God's redeeming hand in the "descendants of Jacob and Joseph." (v. 15) and in verse 20, "You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."

 

The New Interpreter's Bible commentary correctly states that, "...God's way is not always clearly visible or comprehensible in terms of human ways." Any honest person will acknowledge that faithful people suffer anguish and suffering. There are moments when God feels distant from us. Yet, in faith, we continue to seek God and trust that God will not remain hidden from us, and that all things work for good.

 In your prayers and reflections today, strive to remember at least one time when God brought you through a difficult time in life. If you cannot come up with one, then simply think about a challenging time you endured. Then remember what the circumstances were that changed, to open doors to recovery and renewed hope. Look beyond the easy rationales, and seek to see God's handiwork in the support you were given. Then offer a prayer of thanksgiving for God's continued care for your life. When God feels very close, or when God feels far away, remember, God's distance is illusory. God remains ever present in your life. Rejoice in that truth. 

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Divine Irony

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"There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war." (Ps. 76:3)

 

This is a psalm of celebration and victory. Yet, victory is not achieved with worldly violence. Divine victory is achieved with the non-violence described in the braking of arrows, shields, swords and other weapons of war. Trusting God's power is difficult to accept amidst the fear and evil of so many in this world. It is hard to accept God's non-violent power, when a Syrian dictator drops poison gas on his own people. It is hard to accept God's non-violent power when Isis thinks nothing of beheading innocent people. It is hard to accept God's non-violent power when human animals abuse through human trafficking.

 

Yet, the faithful are called to sing to God, "Glorious are you, more majestic then the everlasting mountains" (v. 4). No worldly army no matter how large, brutal, and powerful reigns forever. The Assyrians, the Spartans, the Romans, the Turks, the Nazi's, etc. in time lost their massive power. God's justice and peace overwhelmed the violent power of so many dynasties. The victims in every age of evil empires believe nothing can overthrow the overwhelming wealth and violent power. Yet, time-and-again the unjust power falls.

 

God's strength is true power because it remains active and victorious in all generations. The Bible is full of irony, and Psalm 76 is no different. God's victorious and all powerful weapon is weakness and humility. While the ego manics from Assad to Kim Jong-un, flex their power for a time, but it will last only a short while. Justice and mercy will once again reign supreme.

 

Offer your prayers to God today, providing thanksgiving for God's powerful love, weakness, humility justice, and victorious power. Then offer God your global fears. Pray for the extremists to lay down their weapons and accept loving humility. Pray for the Chinese to spend time creatively dealing with their pollution problems and the challenges of meeting the basic needs of their vast population. Pray that our own nation will learn to work together for the greater good beyond our own selfish desires. Finally, pray for the faith to trust in God's ironic, humble, sovereign power.  

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