Remembering the Right Things

“When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints” (Psalm 77:3)

Have you ever experienced moments, sometimes hours or days, of anguish and pain that seem to go on and on? Then you called out to God, but did not get an immediate response and so your pain continued. Then your mind drifted to earlier days, better days, when you felt God’s smile was upon you. It’s at times like these that we become sad, not encouraged, when we think of God.

When we recall God’s faithfulness in answered prayer, blessing our lives and meeting all of our needs, we can soon grow sad that we do not experience the kind of blessings we once enjoyed in earlier times. That sort of temptation faced the writer Asaph as he wrote this Psalm. But we must not succumb to that temptation.

In verses 3 and 9, Asaph remembered that God but did not immediately rise up in faith. He remembered God, but seemed to grow more despondent. “Where is God?” “Has he forgotten to be gracious?” (v. 9). We, too, can begin to conclude wrong things about God, that He no longer cares or does not want to bother with us. Fortunately, Asaph did not linger long on such thoughts.

In verse 11-20, he recalled the power of God to deliver His people. His mind goes back to the great events of the Exodus, where God delivered His people through miraculous means. He concludes that God faithfully led His people like a flock (v. 20). So Asaph wrote honestly how he felt, but did not linger long in unbelief. He rallied and began to remember God’s faithfulness in former times. He remembered better times not so he could sulk in his present situation, but rather as an inspiration to call upon this God who so faithfully led His people. If He delivered us before, He will not forget us now.

When you grow tempted to despond over better days you recall from earlier times, remember these truths:

1. God leads His children both through pleasant valleys and the valley of the shadow of death. We make a mistake if we interpret God’s smile upon us as always giving us trouble-free days. Even when we experience bad consequences on account of our sin, God uses those memories to think of His mercy and kindness in forgiving us.

2. God wants us to remember days of blessing so that we will trust Him more. But so many people grow wistful over days gone by, longing for a previous stage in their lives when, they suppose, life was much better. But such thinking does not always square with reality. But even when we do accurately recall days of God’s blessing in our life, we should not conclude that God no longer blesses us. God’s blessings come in many shapes and sizes and in many colors. Blue skies cause us to thank God for His smile upon us, but gray skies lead us to trust Him during trying days.

3. God will lift us up. That’s correct, He will not leave you in the valley too long, but will lift up your head in due time (Galatians 6:9; 1 Peter 5:10). We should look forward to God’s ultimate deliverance in the new heavens and new earth. At that time, God will banish all sickness, death, and suffering of any kind (Revelation 21:4). So sometimes we can look back to recall God’s faithfulness, but we also need to look forward to much better days when God will banish all pain forever from His people.

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