"I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal."
--Psalm 77:2(Message Bible)
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by a challenging or difficult time in your life that you could not sleep? Unable to put into words the depth of your despair, hurt, or brokenness? Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you in your time of greatest need? Well, if so, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, you are in good company. Truth be told, all of us at one time or another have probably felt this way. And, if you have not, as the saints of old would say, "Keep on livin'". Jesus said in this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). We are bound to face trials, difficulties, hardships, traumatic events, sorrow, grief, anguish, and pain in our lives. Most of us know this, but when it happens, we can be left reeling emotionally. So, how do we traverse the hills and valleys of life? Perhaps a character study on Asaph would be helpful.
Who is Asaph? Asaph was a Levite, the son of Berechiah, and the writer of Psalm 50 and Psalm 73-83. He was a skilled musician who was appointed by King David to lead worship and the singing of psalms. He was a composer, a poet, and a seer. He served under three kings, David, Solomon, and Rehoboam. He was a godly man who was placed in charge of music before the Ark of the Covenant. He was widely revered and respected. Yet, in spite of all of his accomplishments, favor, gifts, and blessings he experienced adversity. Psalm 77 is an articulation of the condition of his heart during a challenging time. He describes his life as "an open wound that will not heal". Ouch, right? It's sounding pretty bleak and hopeless, isn't it? If the chief musician is going through--where does that leave the rest of us common folk? Glad you asked! There is good news in God's word. God never leaves us at a deficit. Brokenness and despair in the hearts of his people does not bring him glory and does not represent the ministry of Jesus (John 10:10).
There are several principles we can employ to maneuver through challenging times victoriously. One of them is our memory. Recalling past events and how we overcame what knocked us to the mat can be powerful. This is what Asaph did. He practiced the art of recollection. Our memories serve as a driving force to get us back in the game. Time and time again the Bible illustrates this principle. God tells his people to build memorials, to talk to their children and share history (Psalm 78). Why is this important? Because it is easy to forget when one's back is against the wall. A careful contemplative study of Psalm 77 will reveal the ebbs and flows of Asaph's heart. Although his heart really took a beating and his internal plight seemed miles away from the truth of God's word, we can see a gradual transformation and an inner pursuit and resolve to overcome. His language began to change as he recalled God's power. He was reminded how God can move in our circumstances so stealthily that no one can see him coming or going as he leads us out of our plight (Psalm 77:16-20).
Ways to biblically overcome difficult times (Psalm 77)
- Accept that in this life, we will have hardships
- Acknowledge your feelings
- Express your feelings--talk to someone you trust; spouse, pastor, counselor
- Take care of yourself--get adequate sleep, exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Recall past difficult times and remember how you got through it
- Think on the goodness of God
- Practice gratitude
- Look for God
- Maintain your hope and expectation
- Nourish your spirit with the word of God
Father, in the name of Jesus, thank you for the power of your word. We receive it by faith, as Asaph did. We trust that you will bring us through these present challenges just as you brought us through past ones. Help us to recall, remember, recollect that you do not change. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May we bear witness of the truths of your word. Give us the grace and strength to teach our children how to put their faith and hope in you that they may be encouraged, motivated, inspired, and strengthened. Amen.