None of us knows how long this will last…
In the aftermath of a disaster, none of us can predict a timetable for recovery. Questions and remembering mark the path of those who suffer.
Psalm 74 is a cry of pain after disaster. God’s people are crying out to Him with their questions after the temple has been cruelly destroyed by Israel’s enemies.
Isn’t this the primary question after disaster? Why did it happen? Why didn’t God prevent it?
When the temple, the special place where God met with His people, was destroyed, the psalmist says it felt like God was angry and had rejected His people.
Why have you
rejected us forever, God?
Why does your anger burn
against the sheep of your pasture? (v. 1 CSB)
The psalmist pleads with God to remember His chosen people, Israel, and His chosen place, Mount Zion.
Remember your congregation,
which you purchased long ago
and redeemed as the tribe
for your own possession.
Remember Mount Zion
where you dwell. (v. 2 CSB)
The psalmist then asks God to make his way to the place of disaster, the temple ruins. The psalmist describes the cruelty of the enemy in destroying “the dwelling place of your name”, the place “where God met with us.”
How long is another signpost question after disaster. How long will this last? When will God step in?
In destroying the temple, Israel’s enemies mocked and insulted God’s name. The psalmist wants to know how long the enemy will get away with it and why it seems God is holding back His hand and not punishing the enemy. There are no signs or words from God to indicate how long the disaster will last or how long the enemy will escape punishment.
There are no signs for us to see.
There is no longer a prophet.
And none of us knows how long
this will last. (v. 9 CSB)
I will remember.
But while there are no signs or new words through a prophet, the psalmist reminds the people of Israel of what they DO know: who God is what God has already done on their behalf.
God my King is from ancient times,
performing saving acts on the earth. (v. 12 CSB)
The psalmist reminds God’s people that God is King. He is a God of salvation. He has performed saving acts on behalf of His people. And He has authority over all creation.
The day is yours, also the night;
you established the moon and the sun.
You set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made summer and winter. (v. 14 CSB)
Even in times of disaster, the daily movement of the moon and sun and the changing of the seasons are reminders of God’s power and authority over all.
Remember the enemy.
In addition to asking God to remember His people, the psalmist leads the congregation in asking God to remember that the enemy has mocked Him and insulted His name.
Don’t forget us.
Remember. Don’t forget. Two sides of the same request: that God would be attentive to His people in this time of disaster.
The psalmist concludes with a cry for God to rise up and defend His cause, to remember the insult of the enemy and act on behalf of His people.
The honesty of the psalms is a help in difficult times.
In the psalms, we see ourselves and our emotions. We are reminded that questions like “Why?” and “How long?” are normal after disaster strikes.
We also see the power of remembering:
Asking God to remember His people, to protect us.
Asking God to remember to punish the enemy.
And choosing to remember who God is, what He has promised, and what He has done in the past to give us strength while we recover.
None of us knows how long this will last, but thanks to God’s Word, we know what to do while we wait.
Father, remember me. Don’t forget me. Come to my aid. Stop the work of the enemy. You are God my King. Thank You for the predictable patterns in the seasons and the moon and sun that remind me of Your power over all things, even when life is anything but predictable. I choose to praise Your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.