Have you ever been expecting an important call from someone and didn’t want to leave the house for fear of missing the call? We all have. You wait on the call from a relative, a friend, a company to deliver some kind of news. You hate to leave the house, but sometimes you have to. You rush around to get your stuff done, run home, and check your answering machine or voice mail to see if they’ve called… no new messages. This is especially frustrating if your in the middle of a stressful time and waiting for some good news–a potential employer, a doctor’s office with lab results, etc. You want to hear something from someone, but there’s nothing you can do about it but wait.
Psalm 74 is all about stress–big time stress. The entire Psalm is about the destruction imposed upon Israel by God’s enemies. We’re not sure when this Psalm was written. Many scholars think it was written soon after the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 BC, taking many of the people captive and destroying everything the ancient Israelites held sacred, including the temple. It may have been something else. It really doesn’t matter. The point is simple: times are really tough, and the author wants any kind of news that God is going to deliver them. Look what he writes in Psalm 74:9,
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long.
“You have… no… new… messages.”
I can remember several times in the past when I was going through some stressful times with my church, and all I wanted was something from God to let me know what I was supposed to do. “Frustrating” doesn’t really describe what I went through. Mix in a lot of doubt, a little depression, and that’s what it was like. For awhile, I felt like the author of this Psalm did–there is no prophet, no one to say how long this tough time will last. It served to help me do one thing better: rely on God.
The second half of Psalm 74 shows the author recalling God’s mighty deeds of the past–His deliverance of Israel from oppression, His creative acts. These served to remind the author that God indeed works in the lives of people and nations. He then pleads with God to act.
Maybe you’re going through a time of stress or anxiety, where it looks like God isn’t working; it seems like He’s snoozing in His recliner on a Sunday afternoon. Take some time to reflect on how God has acted in the past. Take a minute to think about something He may be trying to bring to your attention through this season of “inactivity” on His part. Examine your life to see if you’re really relying on Him, or if you’re on cruise control, or if you’re really the “captain of your ship” and God is just a stowaway. It may be that God is reminding you that you shouldn’t be piloting the ship of your life… He should.
It’s hard to see the forest for the trees when we’re lost in the middle of them. But once God guides us out, and we can see the big picture, we can see God’s ultimate purpose for that stressful time in our lives.