Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Comfort in Prayer (Psalm 77)

"In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing …" (Psalm 77:2).

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, he writes of an incident when the main character, Christian, is trapped in a dark castle, held in chains by a dreadful giant. The castle is called Doubting Castle and the Giant’s name is Despair. Christian and a companion were imprisoned by Giant Despair when they turned down a road that was not in the way God had directed them.

This allegory aptly portrays the Christian’s struggle against despair and doubt. Frustration and despair easily creep in on us if we do not stand guard against them. When we take our eyes off the Lord and focus on ourselves, we begin to doubt which leads to despair. We have already encountered David’s battle against despair a number of times in the psalms. Psalm 77 also deals with this problem and offers solutions to those who find themselves bound in chains by Giant Despair.

We find escape from doubt and despair only by looking to God, remembering His promises and fixing on His mercies and grace. To take hold of this deliverance from despair we must cry out to God. “In this manner it becomes us to wrestle against despair, in order that our sorrow, although it may seem to be incurable, may not shut our mouths and keep us from pouring out our prayers before God,” Calvin wrote. Many of us refrain from approaching God when we are plagued with doubts. Yet, the psalm teaches that no matter what our situation, we must continually seek God in prayer. Even when comfort is not given to us immediately, we must remain steadfast in this sweet communion.

When we approach God during these times, we must remember former joys of our walk with Him, the divine mercies He has bestowed on us, and His great works done for His people. The psalmist here recalls God’s power in delivering Israel from Egypt. Likewise, His people in all ages can remember how He delivered them from the bondage of sin. Considering God’s glory and holiness in bringing salvation to His people, as well as His power in delivering them from sin, causes a light to shine in our hearts and lifts us out of despair. When doubts creep upon you, cry out to God and put your hope in His mercy and power.

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 and meditate on God’s action for us. The expected result is that we should comfort others with the comfort we received. Have you done this? Have you given to others from what you have been given from God. Look for opportunities to comfort others.