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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unseen Footprints

Well, due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm late getting this post up, so I'm making it brief. Before I get started, I have some important news updates on this blog. First, I'll be welcoming a guest writer here at Savvy Sheep next time, so be sure to come back this Thursday to read the post she's prepared. Secondly, I'm looking into teaching myself the basics of CSS coding (I know, good luck without a manual or an instructor, right?) so I can make some changes to my blog template and perhaps make it more visually interesting. As always, I welcome your tips and comments!

So, what's on my mind this week? Well, I guess you could say I've been singing the blues lately. I've felt frustrated with the weather around my neck of the woods, but it took a late-night gripe session with God to get me to finally understand where my mopey, bad attitude was really coming from. Virtually every day I've been confronted with examples of human failings, or, more accurately, human transgressions. That goes for news broadcasts and internet news feeds, too. Every time I read about it or heard it, I felt hopeless, surrounded, and defeated. It was like someone had taken all the wind out of my sails. I felt so frustrated that I just wanted to lie down and cry. How had I let it get to me that way? Why?

The Need

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 my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah (Psalm 77: 1-3 NIV)
I felt so down last night that I vowed to stay awake until I found comfort talking to God and reading the Bible. It took a few hours, but I finally found the words I needed in Psalm 77. In the rest of this post, I'll walk through the sections of Psalm 77, interspersing the sections with a little bit of analysis. If this is how you've been feeling lately, maybe this post is for you. Let's read on, shall we?

The Problem

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 mused and my spirit inquired: "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?" Selah (Psalm 77: 4-9 NIV)
Basically, David was upset and suffering from insomnia because he felt that God had abandoned him. He couldn't see how the promise God had made to him (that he would one day be King of Israel) was ever going to happen. His life was miserable, and it seemed that God was letting his enemies dog him relentlessly without any sign of judgment in sight. He was feeling hopeless, surrounded, and defeated, just like me, lately. There's even a sense that he felt that God was angry with him and was allowing everything to happen to him because of some wrong he didn't understand he'd committed.

The Analysis

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so 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. Selah (Psalm 77: 10-15 NIV)
David thought back to all the times in his life when God had come through for him, and he realized the same thing that I realized about myself: In this case anyway, this hopeless feeling came from a loss of faith in God's power, both His ability to work miracles and his authority to punish evildoers. In my case, I realized how ridiculous it really was to feel depressed when I saw it all from that perspective. The day the God of the universe can be outsmarted or overcome, that's when I should feel helpless, and not before. Anything else is giving human troublemakers more power than they deserve credit for.

The Resolution: Unseen Footprints

The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the skies 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: 16-20 NIV)
David paints us a dramatic image of the awesome power of storms in nature, and God calmly walking through the middle of one, with the storm fleeing from Him.

The message is clear: Though our worst enemies may rise up to make our lives miserable, their power is nothing more than wind, noise, and splashing puddles when faced with the power of the living God. Even when we can't see God's presence as He is actively working in our lives, if we persist in following Him, He will clear a path for us through the dark times, and lead us through to the other side.

So, my favorite verse for the week:
Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen" (Psalm 77: 19 NIV).
Keep following God, and He'll get you through anything. I'll see you back in a couple of days!

*Oops! I got ahead of myself announcing the guest post just yet. Sorry about that; my mistake! I'll get that straightened out and see you all back here next time with more news and another post.*


Anonymous said...

I've been feeling the same way this week, so it's wonderful to read this as a confirmation of what God has already been telling me.

Yesterday my pastor preached about the story of Peter, and especially Luke 22:31-32. He pointed out that we tend to feel distanced from God during trials, often because we blame ourselves for the situation. But even though Peter's denial was entirely his own fault, Jesus was in his corner, interceding for him. The distance we feel is just an illusion created by our own emotions. I'm learning more and more that if I can't hear God speaking to me, it's usually because of my own deafness. And if I can't see Him ahead, guiding me, it's probably because He is at my back, fighting for me (Exodus 14:19-20). To everyone out there who is getting tired of the battle, remember God's promise to Moses, and to anyone who will faithfully follow Him: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14).