“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
When do you earnestly seek the Lord? Are your hands raised in praise when you’re on the mountaintop and life is going your way? When you get a nice raise at work and your bills are paid with some left over to save for a rainy day, you might say a quick “Thank You Lord” then go on with your life. When your children are all overachievers who are walking with the Lord, do you earnestly pray for them?
In those times of prosperity, we seldom cry out to God with uplifted hands, but when the company you work for downsizes and you lose your job, that’s another story. When the son you love so dearly is arrested for drug possession or your daughter is involved with a man who abuses her, those are the times we earnestly seek God.
Many of the Psalms were written by men who faced trouble and turned to the Lord for help. Psalm 77 is one that you should bring to mind when you go through troubles.
“[To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph] I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me” (Psalm 77:1).
From childhood we’re taught to bow our heads, fold our hands, and pray…usually silently. Asaph wasn’t quiet; he cried to God out loud. Does that make it easier for God to hear us? Not really, but it can help keep our minds from wandering. How often have you been in prayer but your mind jumps from the prayer to events of the day or something you need to do tomorrow? Try praying out loud. It isn’t easier for God to hear, but it might help to keep your mind from wandering.
“In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (Psalm 77:2-4).
There are many times when reading the King James translation that the words can be confusing. When we read “my sore ran in the night, and ceased not,” a more modern translation will help us to understand. The New King James translates this as “my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing.” That’s easier to understand and to feel the anguish Asaph was going through. Not only did he speak out loud, but his hands were raised to God.
Asaph earnestly sought God’s help. Asaph found no sleep that night. He cried out to God in prayer and was at a point that he had no words to express his trouble. Have you ever been to that point? I have. Brothers and sisters, those are the times when the Holy Spirit will intercede.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
God knows our troubles and wants to help. Even when we cannot put words to our fears and needs, the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us knows what to say.
Then, Asaph began to remember what God had done in the past. His anguish was still in the way of seeing God’s solution, but he was beginning to move from the mountain of despair to remembering that God had always helped in times past.
“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times” (Psalm 77:5).
Asaph had a lot of history to think about. God did so much for the Israelites, but Asaph still felt that maybe God had forgotten him.
“Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah” (Psalm 77:7-9).
The answer to all these questions is no. God will never cast you off; He never forgets you, and He never fails. When we get mired down in the troubles of today, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. If we forget what God has done, we won’t have the faith to trust Him to see us through today, tomorrow, and forever.
It’s good to periodically take time to remember just how good God is. Do you keep a journal of the way God has worked in your life? Sometimes when we pray God doesn’t answer the way we asked Him to, but a journal will make it clear that His answer is always the best. It you keep a journal you’ll be able to look back at all He has done for you and when trouble comes you’ll be encouraged.
“I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11).
Asaph had been looking at the troubles of today; but when he began to look at what God had done in the past, he was able to remember God’s faithfulness.
“I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (Psalm 77:12).
Keep God constantly on your heart and talk of Him. When things go wrong, it will be easier to recall the good things you know of the past. Be sure other people know that your blessings are from God.
“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” (Psalm 77:13).
The phrase translated “in the sanctuary” is the Hebrew word “qodesh” which means that God is holy and set apart from the ways of the world. That’s how Christians are to be. Set apart…holy.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
Does that describe you? God knows the end from the beginning, so it didn’t surprise Him when you accepted Christ for salvation. At that point you were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It may not be easy to separate from the world…from sin…but Christians need to. The psalmist knew of the holiness of God, and Christians should know that holiness even more. The Holy Spirit indwells us.
The rest of Psalm 77 tells of Asaph remembering the greatness of God and His leading of Israel. What does this mean for the Christian? When things in life bring sleepless nights and worry, what should we do? Pray earnestly to God. Even before trouble comes your way, pray earnestly to God.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Prayer is our way to talk with God. It’s the first big step in seeking Him. When you pray, don’t tell God what He needs to do for you, but seek His will. Tell Him your heart’s desire and whatever troubles you’re facing, but leave the answer up to Him.
Every trouble we have comes from rebellion to God. Are you overwhelmed with bills? Could it be that you’ve coveted what others have and try to keep up with the Jones? Has your marriage fallen apart because you covet your neighbor’s wife? Have you contracted AIDS or some other STD because you don’t think God really means that any sexual relationship other than a one man/one woman marriage is sin?
Rebellion began in the Garden of Eden, but it continues to this day. It’s usually when we reap the results of living in rebellion that we earnestly seek God. “If You get me out of this mess, I promise I won’t ever do it again.” Promises are easily made but hard to keep. Those are the times when we stay up all night in earnest prayer. The best time to earnestly seek Jesus is every day, even when troubles seem far away.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
If you earnestly seek Him daily, you’ll do all within your power to please Him. That means turning from sin. He never promised life would be trouble free after we accept His shed blood for our salvation; but if we continue in sin, we’ll continue to face the same troubles. The things He says will be added to us if we seek Him are: food, drink, and clothing. The additional blessings that come from Him are icing on the cake. If you seek Him, you won’t covet what other people have, or live a lifestyle that opens you up to disease.
Do you think that when you came to Jesus and your sins were forgiven that you could continue to sin with no penalty? Living a sinful life will always carry penalties.
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).
The way to know His commandments and keep them fresh on your heart is to search the Scriptures daily. Don’t try to find a loophole in order to condone your sin. Don’t take Scripture out of context. If you earnestly seek God, you’ll desire to please Him and turn from sin. Remember what Christ has done for you. He shed His blood as a sacrifice for your salvation. Don’t take that for granted.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:60.
You make choices every day as to whether to live a holy and sanctified life, or to continue along a sinful path. Could it be that the turmoil which you’re going through is a result of living your life in a worldly way instead of separating yourself from the world? Trouble will come into the life of a Christian as well as a non-Christian; but if continuing in sin is your choice, then you need to ask yourself if you’ve truly accepted Christ’s sacrifice for salvation. If you have, then turn from sinful choices and follow Him.
Don’t wait until you’re in a dark valley to seek Him. If you love Him, seek Him every day, and you will find Him.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.
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