Still In Control

Hey students! While you’re listening to this song, get your Bible and open to Psalm 77 as that will be what this devotional is on today.  I’m reading from the NLT and for unity’s sake I’d encourage you to do so as well. Listen to the song and then dive into the devotional as we walk through the Psalm together. Love you all!

– Matt R.

*Turn to Psalm 77 and start the lyric video below*

How CAN I say “IT IS WELL” when this chaos has seemingly overtaken the entire world? 

 

HOW CAN I BELIEVE GOD IS IN CONTROL when people across the world are suffering and dying from an invisible enemy for which there is yet no cure?

 

ISN’T GOD supposed to be GOOD? WHY is he letting all these BAD THINGS happen?

 

I am willing to bet that some variation of these questions have passed through some of your minds these past few weeks of quarantine. Maybe they haven’t just passed through but are lingering…loud…front and center in your minds. I have certainly been asking myself these questions. In fact, this is not the first situation in which these questions have been in my mind. From the deaths of siblings and other family to health complications and car accidents, relatives and friends to suicide, and watching my dad fight cancer…..in all of these scenarios I have asked these questions over and over again. So did the writer of Psalm 77. 

Read verses 1-3:

The writer of the psalm is very clearly in some deep crap. Life is not going well for him and so he does what first comes natural to him. He cries out to God. He is shouting, yelling, screaming out to God for help. He is in such distress that he stays up all night praying to God. The writer is “overwhelmed with longing for God’s help” and yet his soul is not comforted. I resonate with this man. When I was in 8th grade, my cousin Taylor whom I was very close to got in a car accident that put him in critical condition in the hospital. So I prayed, much like the psalmist does in verse 1-3. I prayed and longed for Taylor to recover. Maybe you feel or have felt this way. So deep in worry or anxiety that you cry out to God for help. Any maybe for some of you he answered. But maybe for some of you, like me, like the psalmist, you did not find comfort from God. 

Read verses 4-10:

Taylor never did recover. He died 2 days later from his injuries. I couldn’t sleep apart from crying myself to sleep. I could only think of the “good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs” (vs 5-6). All of the questions asked in verses 7-10 ran through my head and I felt I could only answer each of those questions with an angry and frustrated “YES”. Yes, the Lord has rejected me, Yes His unfailing love is gone forever, Yes He has slammed the door on His compassion. It is well with my soul? No! God is in control? Certainly not! God is good? Well if He is, wouldn’t He have healed Taylor? This is where I was. This is how I felt. Plain and simple. I truly believed that God was against me and that is what I believed and how I lived for the next three years into high school. Indeed I was stuck in life of verse 10 for three long and hard years. Without hope and angry at the God of the universe. It was not till I was a senior in high school that I was able to BEGIN my journey into verses 11-14 of this psalm. Long story short it took the suicide of my uncle, whom I had grown to hate, for God to get ahold of me. I remember God audibly asking me how I could claim to be his follower when I didn’t even care about where my uncle was now spending eternity. This began my journey back to God. However, it wasn’t until this time last year when I was at a point where I would be able to sing this song while believing every word of it let alone read verses 11-14 and believe them. 

Read verses 11-14:

God has indeed done wonderful deeds of which I can look back on and praise Him for. A year and three months ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I learned a year ago that it was stage 4 cancer. It was in every major organ in his body. He was stuck in a hospital bed for three months. He airlifted multiple times to different hospitals. He received chemotherapy. Likely had close to $1 million dollars worth of hospital bills. He makes $36,000 a year. He had no less than 10,000 people around the world praying for him. He was 100% cancer free after just three months of treatment. He has $0 worth of hospital bills to pay. He has not had any symptoms of cancer now for a year. “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations” (verses 11-14). God is forever good. God is forever in control. The author of this psalm comes to this conclusion only after reflecting on the things God has already done. Clearly when he was in the thick of it back in verses 4-10 this was not his attitude. I want you to put your hand right up in front of your eyes and try to see past it and then slowly move your hand away. Initially you could not see anything. Just your hand. Once you moved it away then you could start seeing the room around you. This is what it is like with life. You and I, we allow the bad situation (whether it is coronavirus, school, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, anxiety, fear) to blind us to God’s reality. When I let the situation dominate my sight, I cannot see that God is good. I cannot see that God is in control. I cannot say it is well with my soul. Only by stepping back, looking around, looking back at what God has done can I then see that these truths about God stand firm. You reading this might need to take many steps back. You might need to turn back to God. Remember the good things He has done.

Read verses 15-20

Whatever you are facing right now is menial compared to God’s power. The great oceans and the mighty mountains tremble in the presence of God. He has absolute control over them. Nothing on this earth happens without His knowledge. He is not afraid of anything. Your hurt, your anxiety, your worry, your fear, is not too heavy for God to carry. He is standing behind you waiting for you to turn and fall into His strong arms. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us (Romans 8:35,37) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7); Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done (Phillippians 4:6-7); And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)

Listen to the song again. Reflect on those verses I listed above. Pray. Care about you guys! See you when this quarantine is over.

– Matt R.