I remember a season of ministry that was very tough for Steve and me. Our son, JJ, was away at college, but he wrote Steve one of the most profound emails that Steve has ever received. JJ wrote, “Dad, I know things are tough right now. But remember how God has used you in the past. He will continue to use you now. Don’t forget all the miracles He has accomplished through you.” Ah, JJ’s email brought tears to Steve’s eyes. Our son was reminding us to exercise the worship of remembrance.
One of the most profound ways to praise and worship the LORD is by remembering. When you dare to look back and remember all the ways God has been faithful, you find the courage to step confidently into tomorrow.
The Psalmist Asaph was one of the Levites whom David appointed to lead worship in the temple (1 Chronicles 6:39). He led worship also at King Solomon’s commissioning (2 Chronicles 5:12). And he is the songwriter of several of the Psalms.
In Psalm 77, Asaph writes that he cried out to the LORD for help because he was in distress (Psalm 77:1-2). Ever been in distress? Hello! 2020? Covid-19, shutdowns, and social distancing left all of us a bit undone. We, as collective humanity, were in distress. You personally may have experienced other stresses like job loss, or loss of a loved one, or the stress of virtual learning while trying to hold down a job. Yup! I’m guessing you’re well-acquainted with stress and have felt distressed at different points recently. Asaph pours out his heart to the LORD – writing that in his trouble, he cried out to God. He describes a prayer of wrestling and begging the LORD for help (Psalm 77:2). Then Asaph beautifully pens for us the worship of remembering.
I remembered you, God, and I groaned (Psalm 77:3). You might be thinking, “What’s up with that?” Isn’t God supposed to bring us comfort? Yes. But there are times when we literally will groan in prayer. Asaph remembers God and groans to Him in prayer. There is definitely an element of groaning in prayer. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that the Spirit groans for us in prayer when we don’t know what to pray (Romans 8:26-27)! I find that to be a great comfort. At different times in our lives, our circumstances are so difficult that we can’t even find the words to pray. In those moments, when we are pressing into God, the Holy Spirit is groaning for us in prayer. What a comfort! The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Himself also intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). Hey friend, when you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling, nothing could be farther from the truth. You have the entire Godhead praying for you. What a prayer team!
I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked… (Psalm 77:6). Asaph remembered all the times when he sang praise songs to God during the night. He didn’t feel God’s presence at the moment, however, he dared to ask, “Will the LORD reject me forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?” (Psalm 77:7-8). Here’s why I love this, Asaph is gut-level honest before the LORD and he’s not afraid to question God. Some of us grew up thinking we were never allowed to question the Almighty. Ah, that’s a lie! The Psalmists continually question God and interact with God as if He is their close friend. They dare to be honest! See, here’s the thing: you can’t have intimacy with God without vulnerability with God. The first step towards intimacy is authenticity.
I remembered the deeds of the LORD: yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago (Psalm 77:11). Finally, Asaph takes a journey down memory lane. He purposely remembers all the miracles the LORD has worked on his behalf. Friend, when you are distressed, sit down with some paper and a pen and make a list of all the ways God has been faithful to you in the past. If He’s been faithful in the past, you can trust Him with tomorrow! He will come through. Dare to remember to strengthen shaky faith.
Next time you’re feeling discouraged, practice the worship of remembrance. Groan in prayer, question, and then make your list of how God has been faithful in the past. I’m betting God will encourage your heart in ways you never imagined.
Coming in June! Are you looking for a Bible study to do this summer or Fall? Take a look at The Extraordinary Power of Praise. Learn from the Psalmists how worshipping God authentically can calm your anxious heart!