Remember the future - Psalm 77 Sermon, July Prayer Service
Text: Psalm 77
Theme: Remember the future
Intr – We are forgetful people.
We forget where we left the car key, or the remote. We don’t recall where our glasses are, or the tools we need. We don’t know where our cell phone is…Whenever we forget where something we need is, all we want is to remember where we left it.
We are forgetful people, as we also strive to remember.
If we are forgetful for many things, there are things though that instead of forgetting them, letting them go, we insist in keeping them in mind. We should forget them in the corner of somewhere but we cannot help but remember them. Those sorrows that linger; those words without forgiveness. Some painful memories, some records of apathy and delusion. Those moments in which we took the wrong way, the wrong attitude; we followed the wrong lead. Sometimes they seem to slip down to the bottom of the family chest only to surface again renewed, getting its ugly grip in our wearied heart.
We are remembering people, even when we should or we would like to forget.
Psalm 77 shows a writer who is in his day of trouble. He says he will cry to the Lord, because he knows God will hear him. In the day of his trouble he seeks the Lord. He will stretch his hand out. However, he does not fill comforted, “My soul refuses to rest”. His eyelids are constantly open. Insomnia. Anguish. Fear. When he remembers the Lord he moans, and his spirit faints.
What is the problem here? It is the things he thinks about the Lord in the present. He is assuming the Lord is silent and distant. He thinks God is not looking after him. He remembers the wrong thing, the ones that lead him astray from the truth. The things than linger in his mind, in his soul, that weary him out, that become burdensome to his heart.
He is remembering the wrong things that his painful situation is leading him into thinking.
Fortunately, he later realizes he is triggering his memory the wrong way. What he must do is actually to remember, recall, be reminded of the things God has done for His people. “Let me remember my song in the night… let me meditate in my heart. Then my spirit made a diligent search”. Now he follows a new train of thought: “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High”.
What he does next is to remember God’s wonders and works, God’s steadfast love and His promises. The way He always provided for His people in the time of need. He makes an abridged description of one particular episode, the parting of the Red Sea. That was a time of need, those were dire straits. No escape, no hope, no deliverance….unless from the Lord.
Can we spend even one day without remembering something? I don’t think so. We remember things all the time. Especially, because the future hasn’t yet come and present lasts just a second and is gone. We recall, we remember. We bring up the past.
There are positive and negative ways of doing it though.
_When our life is centered in others, that’s not a positive way. When we cannot let go things others did to us, or we cannot live without clinging on to words others said about us, whether they’re true or just out of politeness.
_When our life is centered in the past. That’s a bad way too. Everything was better in the old good times, while we forget that back then older people used to say the same about past times. Not to mention that we usually praise the past only because we recall specific good moments we had, but we wouldn’t like to go back into the massive daily routine we had to endure, or into the hardships we had yesterday which are already overcome today.
_Now, if we use the past as our rearview mirror in the car that’s a positive way to remember things. When you drive you’d look every so often to what is past you, but your main focus is on now and on what lays ahead of you.
Do you see yourself in one of these ways of using your memory? Recalling things may be good or may be bad. It may be a component of happiness in life, or perhaps a tool for self-destruction.
From Psalm 77 we learn how to use our memory, especially in times of need.
7 “Will the Lord kspurn forever, and never again lbe favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his mpromises at an end for all time?
9 nHas God forgotten to be gracious? oHas he in anger shut up his compassion?”
We know the answer: No. He has not. How can we know? The answer needs to be remembered, because it lies in the past. Both for the psalmist and for us. For the psalmist, he can remember the promise of salvation. For us, it is in the fulfilment of God’s promises in Christ, back in Palestine, an actual Historic event. In the past. God has not forgotten us then. He won’t forget us now.
We can sing with the psalmist:
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will qremember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your rwork, and meditate on your smighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is tholy. uWhat god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who vworks wonders; you have wmade known your might among the peoples.
By the way, the holy writer mentions he will “remember his song during the night”. Isn’t that true that special Christian hymns, songs, melodies bring comfort to our hearts in difficult times? Surely they do. They come from the past to comfort us in the present. When we lack words, some songs just do the work of bringing up to memory how awesome, great is our God.
When we look to God’s Word we see His wonders, and deeds, and care and comfort. He does good even to those who do not believe He exists, since the sun comes out for everyone. The other option would be to trust our own memories of what is good or bad. And this is a really bad one.
The psalm ends with a very meaningful, cherished illustration for all Christians: “You led your people like a flock.” We are sheep of His fold, and we are guided by his hand – as He always did in the past, and will do in the future.
God’s own memory is weak when it comes to our sin. When there is repentance and faith, he forgives and forgets. There’s no archive or backup. It is completely deleted. He won’t bring it up later and throw it in our face. He forgets. His memory is perfectly precise though when it comes to keep His promises, and to be steadfast in His love. He always remembers to offer us Grace, Peace and a New Beginning in His love. We frail human people know that it is hard sometimes to forget what we should and to remember what we need. It is in Jesus that our strength lies, our comfort rests and the good memories are constantly revisited.
Cc – Psalm 77 is a reminder that faith includes having a good memory. Faith includes remembering the great good deeds of The Lord on behalf of His people. Also, living daily with Him in faith is like using the rearview mirror. We look into the past, but we don’t dwell in it. We keep looking forward, we walk forward, we walk towards the eternal life, where no memory of the times of trouble will last. We look confidently into the future because of God’s providence that lays behind us. Then, we realize we are called daily, by faith in Jesus to remember... the future.
BRUG, John. A commentary on Psalms 73-150.