The Forgotten (Psalm 77)

AUDIO: 

MOTIVATE

Toy Story 2 – when Jessie shares with Woody (both characters are toy dolls) about her story of being left by her owner. Her song “When Somebody Loved Me”[1] is a reflection of feeling forgotten.

When somebody loved me
Everything was beautiful
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart

And when she was sad
I was there to dry her tears
And when was happy so was I
When she loved me

Through the summer and the fall
We had each other that was all
Just she and I together
Like it was meant to be

And when she was lonely
I was there to comfort her
And I knew that she loved me

So the years went by
I stayed the same
But she began to drift away
I was left alone
Still I waited for the day
When she’d say I will always love you

Lonely and forgotten
Never thought she’d look my way
And she smiled at me and held me
Just like she use to do
Like she loved me
When she loved me

When somebody loved me
Everything was beautiful
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart
When she loved me

 

This song may bring back memories of the movie, but more, it likely also causes us to reflect on relationships that have drifted and left us discouraged or depressed. Perhaps, this song captures our relationship with God in how the seasons of life have caused some separation from God and believing He is silent.

In today’s message, I’d like to talk about a topic often the church is silent. There are many issues we are silent or not very loud, while other issues we are too vocal. Admittedly, Christians are not the best at discerning when and where to speak. Yet, today is one issue that we can address and hopefully is an encouragement to some.

Depression doesn’t discriminate. Anyone, even Christians, can face deep discouragement and depression. It ranges from being simply bothersome to fully debilitating. My aim today isn’t to offer a full diagnosis, but only that you don’t have to feel alone: God cares and so do we as a church family.

Summer Psalms 2018

EXAMINE

Psalm 14 – The Fool who denies God’s existence.
Psalm 74 – The Foe who dismisses God from bitterness.
Psalm 77 – The Forgotten who depends on God for everything.

*The Psalms are music with the major key God’s lordship and the minor key of earthly lament.

*Pain is inevitable… if you haven’t experienced suffering, then keep living bc it’s coming.

  • Charles Spurgeon described, “The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.”

*Pain loves to isolate… but in life we need each other, and psalms help us to be honest & vulnerable.
Truths when we feel forgotten by God:

God hears our heartache.

The psalmist opens with constantcrying aloud” to God. This is not a pretentious prayer or stock supplication, but heartfelt and desperate prayer. The psalmist is “seeking the Lord” with “hands stretched out” (Ps 77:2). We don’t know if the crisis is personal or national, but hint towards the latter based on ending of psalm referencing children of Israel (Ps 77:15) and them being led by Moses and Aaron (Ps 77:16-20). Further, the trouble is not a sudden tragedy or passing sorrow, but a sustained trial being presented to the Lord. While the psalmist prays for God to comfort, he feels no comfort or contentment.

Tears are typical in this world… but we have a God who says Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4), who weeps along side us (John 11:38), and who will one day wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).

The psalmist describes his depression as

  • Encountering Darkness. He’s “in trouble… in the night” (Ps 77:2).
    • Psalm 88:18 “my companions have become darkness.”
    • Night is almost always a symbol of distress, danger, wickedness, or death.
  • Escaped Hope. His “soul refuses to be comforted” (Ps 77:2).
    • “Depression is a form of suffering that can’t be reduced to one universal cause. This means that family and friends can’t rush in with THE answer.”[2] Solutions are in divine grace and common grace (2Pet 1:3).
    • Hell is the placed of abandoned hope (Dante). No one should want to be there and others should make every effort to avoid others having to go there. We need hope dealers!
  • Encumbered Faith. He “moans and spirit faints” (Ps 77:3).
    • Moaning and a fainting spirit implies impeded prayer and lack of desire to approach God in worship personally or with the gathered people of God.
    • People of faith must remember the role of the Holy Spirit, who prays in our groanings (Rom 8:26).
  • Eclipsed Stability. He can’t sleep… can’t speak (Ps 77:4)
    • The feeling of instability is overwhelming and so the person feels spiritually, emotionally, and even physically faint.
    • Sometimes, the best thing to do for a depressed person is to sit or walk outdoors with them. This helps them gain physical bearings, and in further conversations can lead to emotional and spiritual stability.

 

The psalmist rejoices in this foundational and faithful truth: God hears our heartaches.

  • Psalm 77:1 “he will hear me”
  • Psalm 65:2 “God hears prayer” (cf. Ps 34:17; 17:1)
  • “God listens to those who do his will – the righteous.” John 9:31 (cf. Ps 5:3; 66:18; Prov 15:29; Isa 59:2; 1Peter 3:12)
  • “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things (Jer 33:3).
  • “If we ask anything according to his will, [we have confidence] he hears us.” (1John 5:14; cf. John 14:14; 16:24; Mat 7:7; 21:22)

 

So, one point of the psalms is to reminds us God hears our heartaches and wants us to know His love.

  • When we’re tempted to feel forgotten we must remember: God is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Ps 34:18).
  • When we’re tempted to feel life isn’t worth living we must remember: God’s love is better than life (Ps 63:3). So, whether our first or final breath, it is only satisfying if life is filled with the love of God.
  • When we’re tempted to feel God has reached His limit we must remember: “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” (Rom 8:35-39).
  • When we’re tempted to feel God doesn’t care we must remember: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and never come to an end (Lam 3:22)
  • When we’re tempted to feel insecure, unprotected, and overwhelmed, we must remember: The Lord Jesus is preparing a place for us and will return to take us there with him, and no one can undo that promise (John 10:29; 14:3).
  • God loves you with a Never StoppingNever Giving upUnbreakingAlways and Forever Love
    (Sally Lloyd Jones)

 

  • Salvation can start now… God hears our heartache bc His heart ached for us (Heb 4:14-16).
  • Turn our pain into pleas and problems into prayers to God. Write them down… share them with others.

 

God awakens our affections.

The psalmist’s battle with depression isn’t pretending happiness, fake smiles, or buried hope. The psalmist doesn’t seek false idols of satisfaction (substance abuse, shopping, food, sexual relations, etc.). Instead, the psalmist becomes vulnerable and honest to God: crying loudly and groaning to God, meditating on God’s promises, and considering the Lord’s powerful works.

Richard Foster says, “If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation… the discipline of meditation”[3] Whereas other religious meditation is emptying the mind, Christian meditation is filling the mind; detachment is not enough, we must go on to attachment to Christ, the Spirit, and the scriptures to grow fully awake spiritually.

  • Illus: Many think substantial prayer & meditation are the icing on the cake for faith, but in reality they are the essential ingredients, and the test of your faith relationship with God.
  • Illus: Have you ever woke in the middle of the night and not able to return sleep? In those instances, have you considered it may be God who woke you up – to pray, to read scripture, or simply to meditate and listen for His voice????

The psalmist gives this impression when he says, “You hold my eyelids open” (Ps 77:4). Further, the unspeakable groanings and questions of the psalmist (Ps 77:4-9) are likely the work of the Holy Spirit convicting and interceding for him (cf. Ps 139; Rom 8:26-27; Jn 16:8-15).

 

  • Singing is symbolic of God present in our storm.
  • God gives us songs for situations and seasons of our life (Ps 77:6)
  • Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me.”
  • Job 35:10 our Maker gives songs in the night.
  • Ps 16:7; 63:6; 119:148 communing with God in the night
  • Mat 14:28; Lk 6:12 Jesus communing with God in the night.
  • Acts 16:25 Paul and Silas singing at night in a jail cell.
  • We sing because another Day is coming… the Day Jesus returns to bring us to Himself and bring justice on the earth.

 

  • Just because we are in a storm/night, does not mean storm/night has to be in us; God awakens our affections to things higher, nobler, and unto Himself who is far more superior and satisfying (cf. Ps 16).

 

God leads us with lessons.

The Psalmist asks questions that he seems to know the answers (Ps 77:7-9).

  • Will the Lord spurn forever and never again be favorable?
  • Has God’s steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
  • Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?

And the psalmist’s immediate response is appealing to the experiential power of God with lessons learned by the people of God (Ps 77:10-12). Lessons such as:

  • God is holy… and great (Ps 77:13).
    • God’s holiness implies our prioritization, His greatness implies our passion.
    • We must learn the answer to our “why” questions is the answer of the “who” question.
  • God works wonders (Ps 77:11, 14).
    • God wants to do miracles through us but either we aren’t willing to give God credit or we’re not willing to wait for them to happen because we want a genie and not God’s ways.
    • God wants to do miracles but we settle for minor pleasures.
  • God redeemed Israel. He rescued them and then led them into blessing. Even in the midst of challenges, God overcame all with His power. And note: God’s way was THROUGH the sea, THROUGH the great waters. (Ps 77:15-20)
    • Most of us ask God for miracles but we don’t like the circumstances God gives us to need them. God is in the resume-building business – using experience to create opportunity.
    • God gives us lessons from previous generations and elder saints that each new gen may learn to grow higher and go deeper.

 

APPLY/THINK

  • Look up…
    • Pray & lament to God.
    • Praise the Lord in trusting Him with our pain and problems.
  • Look back…
    • to the cross.
    • When somebody loved me
      Everything was beautiful
       
  • Look out…
    • God’s footprints are unseen, but He leads us by the hand of people like Moses & Aaron.
    • Moses & Aaron were insufficient servants. Israel often griped to and about them. But God still worked in and through them. Pay attention to those God places in your life for your good and growth.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojso-lIQm1M

[2] Ed Welch, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness

[3] Celebration of Discipline, p.15.

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