Psalm 77 - I cry aloud to God

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To the leader: according to Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
1) I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, that he may hear me.
2) In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
3) I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.
Selah

4) You keep my eyelids from closing;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5) I consider the days of old,
and remember the years of long ago.
6) I commune[a] with my heart in the night;
I meditate and search my spirit:
7) “Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
8) Has his steadfast love ceased forever?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
9) Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
Selah
10) And I say, “It is my grief
that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

11) I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
12) I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
13) Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
14) You are the God who works wonders;
you have displayed your might among the peoples.
15) With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
Selah

16) When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
the very deep trembled.
17) The clouds poured out water;
the skies thundered;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18) The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19) Your way was through the sea,
your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20) You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77 (NRSV*)
Proper 8, Sunday between June 26 and July 2, Year C, verses 1-2, 11-20

Very often the psalms describe a path, of prayer, of thoughts, that seems to tell a story, show an arc, direction, or movement.

The psalm begins with a cry, voiced to the Lord. I am troubled, my soul refuses to be comforted. We ordinarily seek to flee from this kind of place. Yet to God, this is holy ground. The Lord has a heart for the broken-hearted.

This is true of God, even if our present reality is "troubled." The loss of God's favor, the loss of knowing God's presence and support, our real questions about God's faithfulness may be exactly where we are. "Has your steadfast love (Hebrew hesed) ceased forever"? Are your promises worth nothing?

Verse 10 marks a turning point. The NRSV translation here is a bit idiosyncratic, yet points accurately at this movement. The power of God has moved, has shifted, has changes our affliction, our anguish. We are no longer alone in our grief

The movement here is not attributed to God's action in the moment. Rather, it is the act of God's remembering God's saving power, God's history of intervening to lead and deliver God's people. This is the God who works wonders, whose way is holy. The memory of what God has done, and where God has been in history and in our lives is not simply a stand-in. God is actually present when we remember.

The very act of voicing doubts and fears affirms God's reality. "I cry aloud to God," and God is with me, whether I "feel it" or not. When we meditate upon God's work, we speak to our condition.

     Has the Lord's steadfast love ceased forever?
     Are his promises at an end for all time?
     Has God forgotten to be gracious?

No way! God's grace, God's promises, God's steadfat, faithful, neverending love, endures forever. In our prayer, God's still leads us, like a flock led be a good shepherd.


Dedicated to the memory of Simone Paul, beloved wife, mother, grandmother. Born 16 December 1938, Jeremie, Haiti; died 2 March 2019, Weehawken, NJ. Memorial eucharist celebrated 9 March 2019, St. Augustine Church, Union City, NJ. Blessed are they who live and die in the Lord.

Credits:
Uncredited, Cry Out. Labelled as free to use, share, or modify.
Simone Paul. Used by permission.
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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