Suffering can lead to some of the most surprising and difficult questions, often leading to the doubt of God’s goodness. The psalmist and musician, Asaph struggled with some of the great questions of God’s goodness while suffering and wrote them down in what is now the 77th Psalm.
Asaph started by recording his suffering (either a past or present event): every time he thinks of God he is in despair, his soul is exhausted and his arms are outstretched without rest, he is speechless and does not obtain any rest.
So the poet begins to use the recollection of the past to help him in his struggle. As he remembers his past, four great questions arise. Will God permanently reject me? Has his love stopped? Are his promises no longer valid? Has his compassion ended due to his anger?. The psalm describes Asalph’s soul as ‘’searching’’, showing this was not a simple consideration, but a very deep effort to discover the answers. The reason for Asaph’s suffering is unknown here, but there is a very clear indication that the suffering is intense. Asaph’s suffering is so great, he is physically, emotionally and spiritually fatigued. His great suffering led him to seriously doubt some of the fundamental traits of God’s goodness. Asaph makes it known that his questions have arisen from the seemingly different nature of God’s actions and power (the right hand of God) from what it has been in the past.
The psalms ends with the recollection of God’s past deeds, namely the deliverance of Israel. It was through God’s good deeds of the past, he proved who he was. Specifically, God’s control of the weather and the parting of the Red Sea (the same event) are taken as a testimony of God’s character.
In Asaph’s great questions of doubt, he recalled God’s good works of the past. While God’s actions may have been different for Asaph in that time, Asaph had assurance of God’s goodness based on recollection of past events. While anyone can have intense questions of doubt, by looking at what God’s has done in the past, we can be reassured that God is always good.
This is Part 4 of “Ancient Answers to Modern Questions” blog series- through the people who questioned God in the Bible, we can find answers to some of our greatest questions. Check out Part 3.
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