Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

It Is Not Always Sunny

PSALM 77:1-15 – I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah. Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah”

Psalm 77 begins in a pretty dark place. The writer is experiencing what the 17th century Puritan pastors would call “spiritual winter” or “spiritual depression.” The “lights of the Lord’s love, presence, and favor” are out in the Psalmist’s heart. He feels no comfort, no help, and totally abandoned by his God. Oh, by the way, his name is Asaph and he is a godly man. He is a beloved sheep of the Lord’s pasture. Another “oh, by the way”, he isn’t being punished by his God or abandoned. He also isn’t being dealt with because of some sin in his life not dealt with. No, this godly man is in the fires of God’s school of discipleship and it is hot! And a key lesson from Asaph’s experience is that the Christian life is not always lived in “spiritually cloudless days of constant spiritual sunshine.”

Every true child of God will have Psalm 77-type experiences. Now we may not go into the depths that Asaph did, but we will have those dark seasons or times when God feels far away, His comfort non-existent, and we simply utter words of prayer for help that appear to get no higher than the ceiling in our prayer rooms. And such experiences are necessary. When God places us in this fiery furnace, He is doing at least two things.

First, He wants to wean us from relying on our experiences or feelings of Him to walk in trust and faith in His Person. Read through the Psalm and see how Asaph goes from hopelessness to hope. What does he do? He remembers and that leads to the second thing God teaches us in dark times.

God wants us to use our minds to control our emotions not be controlled by our emotions. And Asaph gets it. He engages his mind. He chooses to remember the wonders of God, the works of God and the mighty deeds of God. Everything in the Christian life rises and falls on thinking. Right thinking leads to faith and successful living. Bad thinking leads to unbelief and defeated living. Asaph refused to allow his feelings be the driver behind his faith. What he was experiencing was not the truth of God so he began to tell himself the truths of God. And that, my friend, is the way to live the Christian life.

Always remember, our spiritual walk with the Lord is not always sunny. It does get a little “spiritually cloudy” at times, but the words of the Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes remind us, “The Son still shines behind the clouds.” Trust God for who He is not what we feel, and that begins with learning to think right which is to think Biblically.

PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I complain in my difficulties because I forget the Christian life is not always sunny.”

QUOTE: “If we lived in the experiences of constant joy and the felt Presence of Christ, then we would not need faith.”

Because of Him,

Pastor Jim