Kia ora Cambridge Baptist and friends,
I hope you all are enjoying the greater level of freedom that level 2 brings. Later today I am going to me hitting the gym for the first time in 6 weeks. It could be a painful experience. Which brings be back to the spiritually painful but important issue I was talking about yesterday, the apparent failure of God to respond to our prayers in times of trouble.
Yesterday I finished my devotion by saying how important it is for us to grasp that God doesn’t think or act like us, his ways are so far above ours, and therefore we shouldn’t be surprised when His doesn't do things the way we want -including answer our prayers. However, while God’s behaviour can seem hard grasp from our perspective, we still need to hold onto God’s faithfulness. As the psalmist says, in verses 11-12 of Psalm 77:
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”
The crucial words in these verses are I will. They indicate that the psalmist has caught hold of himself. He is no longer the victim of his feelings, and that is the point. The control of his life shifts from his heart to his head, and that is the way God intended it to be.
The psalmist realizes he’s been looking at the whole issue from the wrong way round. He now sees that the place to begin is not with himself, as he has been doing, or with his circumstances, but with God. And the proper order is not with prayer and then meditation, but the reverse: to begin with meditating about God, which leads to petition based on an understanding of who God is.
That is the way out of spiritual despondency. The reason he was struggling before was because He began his prayer with himself at the center. You can see that in his words. The problem that he brought him to God occupies his whole mind. This man's whole thought is, what is happening to me? Look how I cry, and nothing happens. The result of this is always the same. When self is at the center, then the heart takes over, and the mind is governed by the feelings. We then find ourselves limited to what the Bible calls worldly or fleshly thinking, or thinking on a limited narrow plane where we occupy the center rather than God and his plans. Here is a picture of a man who is giving way to his feelings, allowing them to drive him into increasing distress and despair. He finds himself attempting to be logical, but only on this one plane of thought, related to himself. That is why he misses the point so completely. The heart is a powerful factor in human thinking. When the heart, the emotions, and feelings get hold of us, and control our thinking, then we discover that we are helpless to reason properly. But when something stops us, then the head and the will can assert themselves and take over.
When we struggle with our faith, sometimes it’s because we have imprisoned ourselves into a certain way of thinking - thinking only about what weighs us down. We all need to stop and say I will remember what God is really like - rather than focusing on my feelings. We need to make God the center.
Lord, give us the strength in despondency and disappointment to say., “I will remember the great things you have done”. Help us to place you at the center of our thoughts and our heart and our minds.