In the Office: The Question that Memory Answers

Among today’s readings in the Daily Office, we find the lament of a psalmist who feels like God’s presence is nowhere to be found:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (Psalm 77:7-9)

If we’re honest, I suspect that just about all of us have asked (or will ask) such questions at one time or another. We face a challenge that we can’t find a way to overcome. A loss invades our lives, leaving a pain that refuses to go away. We pray for God’s guidance or comfort as faithfully as we know how; and yet, an answer to our prayers – at least one that we can perceive – seems not to be coming.

But the psalmist also provides an essential strategy for dealing with such questions:

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal…
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:10-12)

Over and over again, the scriptures call us to remember: both our own encounters with God’s faithfulness and the testimonies of those who have come before us. And the goal, of course, is not that we would “live in the past,” allowing nostalgia to blind us to the opportunities of the present. No, the goal is to “rekindle” our trust in the Good Shepherd (see verse 20 of Psalm 77), making it possible for us to continue the Exodus journey that takes us out of our bondage and into a land of promise.

As we start this new week, I hope we all feel like God is guiding us every step of the way. But if we’re not, let’s remember His presence…and let’s remind each other of His faithfulness…because He is “the God who performs miracles” (v. 14), and all of our deepest questions find their “Yes” in Him.

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