How to Move from Despairing to Praising

by Bethany

Relevant Text: Ps. 77:11-12
Full Text: Ps 74 + Ps 77 + Ps 79

Despondency | In Psalm 77, the psalmist is miserable: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?” [1] Yet, by the end, he worships: “Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?” [2]. How did he get from despondency to praise? He intentionally recalled God’s work: “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” [3].

Memory | As John Piper notes, there’s a difference between passive and active remembering. Passive remembering says, “I recall what God did, but it doesn’t change how I feel.” Active remembering, however, says, “I will call to mind that my Lord Jesus … hung on a Roman cross of torture and execution in horrible pain next to a man who had lived a life of sin … that the thief next to him said, for some wonderful and inexplicable reason (for he was cursing at first), ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’ I will meditate on the grace of God that brought that change of heart. I will muse on how unlikely that was and how hopeless that request was. I will talk to myself about how this man had no time to become good and deserving before he died. I will think about what kind of grace he thought might be available from this dying Christ. Then I will remember … that Jesus said to the thief, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’ And I will praise here and muse on his answer a long time … This is a wonder. Here is a dying man declaring a life-long thief accepted and loved and heaven-bound. Here is a grace that sweeps a lifetime of guilt away in an instant. Here is a power that says death can hold neither you nor me. Here is an authority that decides who goes to heaven and who doesn’t. He is an immediacy that says it will happen this very day. No purgatory, no testing, no penance. Just absolute forgiveness and acquittal and cleansing and acceptance” [4].

Prayer | Lord, Forgive our skimming over Your great works and cause us to remember Your deeds, so that we are rooted in Your greatness and can weather the storms of our despondency. Amen.

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[1] Ps. 77:7-9 NIV 1984  |  [2] Ps. 77:13-14 ff NIV 1984  |  [3] Ps. 77:11-12 NIV 1984  |  [4] John Piper, “I Will Meditate on All Your Work and Muse on All Your Deeds.” Sermon, 2 January 2000.

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One Comment to “How to Move from Despairing to Praising”

  1. It has been helpful to me over the years to meditate on all God has done for me in the past. Going through trials is made somewhat easier when you have a history with God.

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