Friday, April 18, 2014

Remembering Twice

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.
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?"
(Psalm 77:1-9)

We all have these days. Or weeks. Or years.

It's how I've felt all week, discouraged and in a funk of sorts, tired and cynical about following the Lord.

I remembered, I meditated, I pondered, I prayed...and I ended up groaning.

Crying out to God for strength and comfort, pleading for a moment of respite from the stress and burden, seemingly to no avail.

He doesn't answer. At least not how I'd want, or in the immediate moment where I'd like him to intervene. The promise of comfort feels put on hold, as if God's presence were lingering in a queue only inching forward every few minutes, God in His propriety patiently awaiting His turn to move forward.

I imagine Jesus in the garden, asking the Father to take away the cup of wrath and judgment he was about to drink. I imagine him making eye contact with Peter at the midnight trial, the moment immediately after Peter has denied their friendship. I imagine him on the cross, crying out to the Father, "why have you forsaken me?" in anguish and futility.

Then I remember....

Then I thought, “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.”
(Psalm 77:10-12)

I remembered, I meditated, I pondered, I prayed...and I end up sighing with relief.

I remember His faithfulness on the cross. I recall His active presence and providence for those who have come before. Abraham. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. Elijah. David. Jeremiah. Jesus. I bring to mind the moments in my own history where He has provided, when He showed up just in time to heal and restore, breaking through the queue and into my soul.

I remember twice. In the first meditation, I am honest about my own brokenness and frustration and longing and despair, crying out to God with my anxiety and burden. This moves me to keep remembering, to dig deep into history and recall circumstances beyond the immediate. In the second meditation, I am honest about the Lord's character and faithfulness, His provision and power and mercy and love.

In the first remembering, my spirit grew faint. In the second remembering, my spirit is strengthened and comforted.

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.

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

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

(Psalm 77:13-20)

The path God has for us often leads us through valleys--through the mighty waters--even when His guiding presence is unseen. He goes before us in faithfulness. Remember twice. Remember through the pain and frustration, leading into remembering faithfulness and hope.

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