Read Psalm 77:1-11
1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help.
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion?
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. (NLT)
When God seems far away, we need some assurance of his apparently absent reality. If our faith is slipping we need solid ground on which to stand. The psalmist finds such assurance and solid ground in remembering the acts of God. He might not be acting in any obvious way in my life here and now, but that doesn’t mean he has gone out of business.
Another way we find solid ground is to cling to some old familiar traditions. If an old hymn or contemporary favourite song comes to mind, reflect on it. If you can’t frame your own prayers, pray the Lord’s Prayer, pray the Psalms, pray set prayers written by others. If you are in a church which uses set liturgy, immerse yourself in that liturgy. Go on reading the Bible which tells of God’s works.
In our understandable desire to find fresh ways of expressing ourselves to God, sometimes we overlook older and seemingly outdated ways. In our understandable frustration that the Bible doesn’t leap to life for us each time we read it, we give up on it and so make matters worse.
Sometimes in our Christian journeys we can only hang on by our fingertips. We go back to basics. We forgo excitement and mountain-top blessings and instead hold on to an apparently absent God in our shadowy valleys. And as we do so we realise we are far from alone in these uncomfortable phases of our journey.