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The Sanity Bridge

The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant. Psalm 35:27 

I have a great-nephew named Jeduthun, an unusual name. Psalm 77, an unusual psalm, was written by Asaph for another Jeduthun, a musician. But it is not one of those peace, love, and rock ‘n roll psalms. It starts off on a serious downer. “I cried out to God for help… hear me… my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned.” The first nine verses are about the sad state of the writer. Before you jump ahead I would warn you that there is no personal happy ending. 

Will the Lord reject us forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?  

These opening verses are the small picture verses, about me remembering the righteous things I did, like singing and praying and being intentional in following God, but with no apparent result. They are the “it’s all about me” verses. 

The last part of the Psalm is the “it’s all about you” part where we hear about God’s miracles, power, and might on a national scale. “Your ways, O God, are holy. You are the God who does miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Later it goes on to talk about God’s sovereignty over creation: “the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters.” When I read this I was reminded of a documentary on the paths under the ocean, especially the rifts where continental plates meet. God can do whatever he wants to do with the continental plates, with earthquakes, with large water masses. He can use creation to further his purposes for nations. 

OK, I get this. I understand the power of God to deal with nations. But I have too little income, my dad is sick, my kids are troubling me, my back aches, my car won’t start and I need a miracle or two. I frequently hear these practical cries of people in need. 

There isn’t an answer given in Psalm 77 except what we could call “the sanity bridge” – this is the paragraph between the personal perspective and the global kingdom picture. Asaph bridges the gap between personal pain and the big picture somehow, and it comforts him. This is how he does it: 

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, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works, and consider all of your mighty deeds.

As human beings, we are quick to judge individual acts or situations out of context. You do something, it gets analyzed in isolation, and pretty soon you are in trouble. We do the same to God. ‘Well, God, you didn’t deliver today, so I am putting you in the dog box.’ Of course, we are much too spiritual to actually say that, but we do it anyway. Asaph shows us a better way: “I will meditate on ALL your works, and consider ALL of your mighty deeds.” Seeing God in the context of his greater good doesn’t solve today’s problem, but it solves our biggest problem of all: failing to believe that God is still good.

The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant.

Pray this out loud for your family, your friends, your coworkers: “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant, Bob.” “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant, Jennifer.” “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the wellbeing of his servant, Marius.” I have prayed it for many this week, inserting names at the end of the verse. 

There is no cute answer for personal despair. We also have no guarantee that everything on earth will turn out just fine, all the time. But we do know that God has a bigger plan and that he wants us to contend for each other. “May those who delight in my vindication…” If your troubles are getting in the way of your worship, could you pray for someone else instead? The New Living translation states Psalm 35:27 this way:

But give great joy to those who have stood with me in my defense. Let them continually say, "Great is the LORD, who enjoys helping his servant."

Reflections 

  • How could a sanity bridge help get you out of your micro-challenges and into a broader context?

  • List ALL of God’s works and might deeds in your life on one side of a sheet of paper: now list your problems on the other. Is God still good?
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