Psalm 77: 3 – 9           NIV

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?”

Asaph penned this psalm several thousand years ago, yet he captures the torment of our souls today. This is what I might call an “everyperson” passage, meaning most of us, throughout history, have felt this same anguish. Why is God not listening to me? Why are my prayers unanswered? Where is the fulfillment of God’s promise? Is God angry with me and in His anger has He turned His face from me? Where is God’s unfailing love?

When Asaph’s mind turned to thoughts of God, his spirit seized within his breast. His meditations on God made his spirit faint within him. How can this be? He was so troubled, so worried that sleep evaded him. This version says he was so distressed that he couldn’t even speak. The Passion Translation breaks it down a bit further. So heavy was the suffering that he couldn’t even pray.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been so stressed, so exhausted and worried that words eluded you? Was there not enough breath in your lungs to utter even a simple prayer? It’s actually true that when people are stressed, they tend to breath shallowly and actually deprive their bodies of necessary oxygen making it tedious even to speak.

Today’s passage read from the Passion Translation is very insightful too, “My mind wandered, thinking of days gone by – the years long since passed. Then I remembered the worship songs I used to sing in the night seasons, and my heart began to fill again with thoughts of you. So my spirit went out once more in search of you. Would you really walk off and leave me forever, my Lord God? Won’t you show me your kind favor, delighting in me again? Has your well of sweet mercy dried up? Will your promises never come true? Have you somehow forgotten to show me love? Are you so angry that you’ve closed your heart of compassion toward me?” How does that translation make your heart feel? It is interesting to note that this passage ends with “Selah” which means to pause in the Lord’s presence and consider what has just been sung. Stop and think on this for a moment. The message is not only in the words but in the meditation the words foster. The real message is delivered, not to your ears, but to your heart.

Tomorrow we will see what answers Asaph found for himself. Stay tuned! (Or read ahead).