In Psalm 77, the psalmist cries out to God in verses 1-3, pleading like a sick man refusing food—full of distress—asking why have these trials come upon me? He adds that he is unable to sleep, speak, or pray, even when remembering the help the patriarchs of old received (vvs. 4-5). After a period of meditation and self examination (v. 6), his heart was still confused and unsettled. Then conditions worsened.
The psalmist’s cry turns into a lament as he argues with himself (vvs. 7-9). He asks himself a number of questions: Am I rejected by God? Am I without favor? Do you really love me? And if so, where are your promises? Have you forgotten to be merciful? If not—where is your mercy? Where is the divine compassion? If you’re really there, is this the way you show your love toward me?
After this grilling period of questioning God—or shall we say complaining—God shows the psalmist the remedy to his problem. The problem is not with God, but with the psalmist or petitioner.
The Holy Spirit prompts the psalmist to recall God’s treatment of him in the past (vvs. 10-14). The Spirit suggests going before the Lord and appealing to Him, asking for the force of will that is necessary to pull himself out of the self-pity party. Once he does go before the Lord, the Spirit causes the psalmist to exercise the “I Will” mentality and remember God’s grace and goodness (how God delivered him from past troubles, trials, and temptations) and that in turn should set the standard for the future. The psalmist is then directed to give testimony both inwardly and outwardly (vvs. 12-14), that in turn will bring the psalmist out of the malaise he is experiencing.
Try this formula the next time you’re having a pity party—it works!
Ralph D. Curtin is a member of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville and has pastored churches. He is a professor at Trinity College and The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville where he teaches Biblical Studies. He’s married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, and has seven grandchildren.
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