Recovering hope by remembering God

A while back I was in a season of deep frustration where it was a real struggle to hope or trust God (as if it’s ever easy). I was having doubts about God’s presence and insecurities about my own capabilities. Whether memories of past failures or fears of future possibilities, worry and anxiety saturated most of my daily awareness. Many times it felt like the ground was crumbling beneath my feet; trying to find my footing seemed an hourly battle.

Around this time I read through Psalm 77. The psalmist is feeling distant from God. Disturbed in his soul, he asks several questions we would likely ask in our own sorrowful seasons; questions I was asking. “Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Then I said, ‘It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’”

One of the most profound aspects about the Psalms is how often we can find ourselves and our own seasons amid their prayers and thoughts. Our tragedies, fears, failures, and all various reactions echo in the copious cries of the psalmists. That’s why the Psalms teach us how to pray. They also show us how to hope again, how to respond out of that hope. It often starts with simply going back to the beginning, as if for the first time, which the psalmist does here: “I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.”

Here the psalmist moves from his frets and fears to instead fixate his mind on memories of salvation moments. He concludes the psalm pondering the great God who worked wonders and salvation by delivering his ancestors from Egyptian slavery and leading them through the Red Sea.

Salvation memories like these are life-giving moments, wells to drink from when the soul is dry. In the midst of his questions, fears, worries, and doubts, the psalmist recognized the unchanging goodness of God in the past is inherent hopefulness for again encountering God’s goodness in the unseen future. Instead of fretting with fear, he fixates on the One in whom our faith is formed. It is this kind of thinking that expands our capacity to look beyond the factors we are often afraid control our fate and see the LORD God who holds us securely in his good sovereignty, restoring hope to our hearts.

This gave me an idea for a devotional project. First I would take some time to let my mind drift back to all the moments I could remember where God had taken care of me. Secondly, as each moment was recalled, I would write a brief statement summarizing God’s provision or protection. Finally, I would attach a post-script to the end of every statement that read in big, bold letters “GOD TOOK CARE OF ME”.

By the time I was finished, I had over three pages of chronologically-listed single-spaced bullet statements testifying to how God’s power, presence, and protection carried me through precarious and perilous moments. As I looked back over the completed list, which amounted to the past twenty years of God’s faithfulness (and that was just the moments I could remember), a contented hush of wonder and gratitude held me.

Just because we can’t see our hope doesn’t mean that it’s not there. When we choose to prayerfully remember the LORD and how he has worked wonders, hope comprised of Him is revealed as plentifully present.

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