August 13, 2020

Look Backward to Move Forward

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 13, 2020

We do not see our emblems; there is no longer any prophet, and there is no one among us who knows how long. How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand; why do you keep your hand in your bosom? Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the earth. You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams. Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. Psalm 74:9-17

Psalm 74 finds the people of God in a dark and confusing place. Familiar signs of comfort and stability are long gone. Trusted voices of leadership seem entirely absent from their common life. And no one has a clue what the future will hold, and that lack of clarity presents them with an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety. Does any of this sound familiar?

The Psalms have often been called the “prayer book of the Church.” There are many reasons for this, yet I am convinced one of them is their profound ability to speak across cultures and generations into the specific situations of our given day and context. The Book of Psalms contains the full range of human emotion, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, and while the specifics may vary from place to place, their enduring value is in their honesty and transparency as they reveal to us the timeless longings of the human heart and our journey through life following the Lord.

There is good news in this passage for us today, because Psalm 74 not only shows us the way humans in the past have encountered similar seasons of strife and loss, but most significantly, it shows us how we are to respond as people of faith in these times of trial. In the same breath the psalmist is honest about the source of their pain (“no one among us knows how long”) and is able to direct that longing towards someone who can do something about it (“How long, O God?”).

Every moment of human limitation is simultaneously an invitation to discover the limitless goodness and power of God.

When present difficulties leave God’s people confused and disoriented, they take a step back and remember, and we must learn to do the same. As it says in verse 12, “Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the earth.” Though you and I are not “from of old,” there is one who has been “working salvation” since before the world began. He brings order out of chaos, crushes the head of every enemy, and is the light that shines into the darkness.

If you find yourself unable to see a way forward through the present moment, whatever that may look like for you and the specifics of your life, the ancient wisdom from the Psalms is crystal clear: God, who was faithful in the past, is not phased by the present nor blind to the future. He is in control and working and sustaining us, even in this very moment, with his perfect love, and so you and I can rest in peace and awake in safety (Psalm 4:8).

“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure” (Isaiah 25:1).

Prayer

Father, we take great comfort in the fact that you are neither surprised nor phased by our present struggles, but are instead the same faithful God who has led your people in the past, and we believe that you are with us in this very moment. Amen.


Application

Take time today to recall the faithfulness of God in your own life over the years.


Related Reading

Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 

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