Psalm 77: Stuck in a Moment

Read Psalm 77.

When I was a kid, my dad’s company would rent out a local theme park for the company picnic. Rides, games, and food were all free, and the lines were really short, because the only people in the park were employees and their families.

My sister and I would race from one roller coaster to another, sometimes slowing down just long enough to shove cotton candy or popcorn in our faces on the way. It was always a total blast—until this one time we got on this one coaster. It was one of those corkscrew twisting, upside-down, spin-you-around-so-fast-you-might-get-sick deals. We’d gone on the ride three or four times already that day, but this time, something happened. While we were being pulled through one of the loops, the ride came to a grinding halt—and left us hanging upside down.

I don’t remember how long we were trapped in that position. It seemed like hours, though it was probably twenty or thirty minutes. Eventually, the coaster got a shot of power—just enough to allow momentum to slowly bring us through the twist and down to the ride’s exit. I actually don’t know what was wrong, but it was enough that they closed that coaster for the rest of the day.

What I remember most about that experience was feeling trapped in a moment. Hanging there upside down, the blood rushed to my head, and after a few minutes I began to feel sick to my stomach. (The generous helpings of amusement park snacks and soda probably didn’t help much.) More than anything, I wanted to move my body and find a comfortable position, but there was no way to move the restraining harness—and that wouldn’t have been very safe anyway.

Last night as I tried to sleep, I felt trapped and sick, and I thought of that time hanging from that rollercoaster. This time the feelings were because I couldn’t turn my brain off and rest. I kept replaying scenes from something that happened to me not too long ago—something someone did to me, something for which I’m still feeling the sting. My thoughts kept spinning around in my head, keeping me trapped in insomnia.

So, this morning, when I picked up my Bible and placed it on my lap to read as I clutched a large mug of precious, wonderful, life-giving coffee in my hands, I found a friend in Asaph: “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted” (Psalm 77:1–2). Yup. I get it, buddy.

Asaph gets to the place I need to get to at the deepest heart level. While it may not seem that God is answering his prayers in the moment, he can trust God, because God has an amazing track record: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” (vv. 11–12).

Scripture is a record of God’s work in this world. Just consider all the impossible things the Lord has done to rescue His people—waters part, food multiplies, lions lose their appetite. And God has been extraordinarily good to me personally. I can’t deny that. He has brought me through worse scrapes than my current one, and so I have every reason to believe He is at work in my life right now, bringing good in ways I may never see this side of Jesus’ return.

Psalm 77 is a reminder that when the world is upside-down and you’re just hanging there, waiting for something to change while the blood rushes to your head, rescue is coming. Nothing is impossible for God.


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