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One could easily say that the world is getting darker. Depression is rampant, everyone is anxious, geopolitics are seemingly unhinged, money is running out, our loved ones seem to die faster every day, and we are tempted to walk away from it all. In these dark moments, I often see people at the bottom of a personal pit that they have nestled into. One person said, “I thought I hit rock bottom, but then I realized there is no bottom. I keep falling.” Maybe you have found yourself here. If you have never visited rock bottom or felt the impact of evil, then I am sorry to inform you that it is likely to happen. That is why Christians who claim a faith that has the answers to this problem must be aware of at least some of those answers. Yet, that is the problem; sometimes, there isn’t a good answer.

Psalm 77 drops us right into rock bottom with Asaph, a man of the house of Levi, who David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the Lord. Take a second to read it here.

After reading this Psalm, we must understand that the Psalms act as a mirror of our souls and an index of our hearts. With this in mind, there are three things that Asaph teaches us about how God wants us to interact with him in our grief. God wants our attention, our honest questions, and our trust. 

Our Attention

When Asaph sits in the face of trouble and grief, what does he do? He turns his attention towards God, not just to say take it away, but he rather brings all of his baggage with him into God’s presence. This is not the airport where you check some things and carry on others—it is fully giving everything we are carrying at that moment to him for him.

Through the distress, Asaph seeks the Lord with outstretched hands throughout the night, yet his soul finds no rest. He feels distant from God, he cannot comfort himself, nor can others comfort him. So, he waits not for anyone or anything else but only God. His hands will not grow tired of waiting for God’s answer, for he knows that for every unpredictable circumstance that assaults his security, there is a predictable truth, a trustworthy bedrock that God is sovereign, in control, and at work. 

The truth is that God is not idly standing by, waiting on us to figure him out. He has been and will continually be working things together, not for our circumstantial goodness but for his redeeming goodness—his story of making right that which is wrong. Redeeming what man did in the garden and continues to do today, the attempted coup d’état when man attempted to become equal with God in Genesis 3. Unfortunately, when we try to be God, it will feel uncomfortable. We cannot handle the weight of his role. We cannot create life for ourselves. We cannot control our safety. We cannot find meaning and purpose in life without God. 

Knowing this, there is an unexpected utility of the pit—for we never seek the face of God more earnestly than when we are at our weakest moments. Jesus came so we can have a relationship with him despite our rebellion and its pit-filled consequences. Face to face with God, we are ready to listen. Face to face, God invites us to speak with him, bringing all of our questions.

Our Honest Questions

In his trouble, Asaph attempts to remember. He recalls the acts of God celebrated in the other Psalms. The more he thinks about these former days, the more questions arise as his spirit grows faint. The songs that used to bring him joy and comfort, seeing how God renewed his people once gave him rest and sleep, but now, in his grief, his eyes are kept from closing. 

In his sleepless sorrow, Asaph speaks his rising doubts to God with questions:

                                   7 “Will the Lord reject forever? 

                                      Will he never show his favor again?

                                   8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?    

                                   Has his promise failed for all time?

                                   9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?    

                                   Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 

By recording Asaph’s questions, God illustrates a fundamental concept and common experience: Under the curse of sin, believers can feel as if God’s covenant no longer applies to them, that God has abandoned us, where our Savior, it seems, has become our tormentor, and the lies of Satan sound more plausible than the truth of God. 

We see in the Psalms that genuinely turning our attention to the Lord is not always a wonderful, peaceful scenario. More often, it is a humbling, harrowing, and grieving experience, especially when we do not feel worthy of approaching the throne. If this is the case, we must first learn how to trust in his work of redemption.

Our Trust

The Austrian poet Rainer Marie Rilke, in advising a young poet, said,

     “…all still lies ahead of you…be patient towards all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, like books written in a foreign tongue. Do not now strive to uncover answers: they cannot be given you because you have not been able to live them.”

 One problem with Mr. Rilke’s view is that the individual is the central player in figuring out the answers. If one thing is true, trusting in yourself does not grow a God-centered worldview; instead, it’s reductionistic. If we are going to properly live out our questions, as Rilke states, we must trust something or someone beyond our strength. Asaph then looks back to what he does know. A familiar admonition: “Trust in the darkness what you have learned in the light.” In verses 10-20, he reminds himself of how big his God is and how small he is himself. Understanding that God’s preferred method of delivering his people is through the water in verse 19 (see also Exodus 14, Joshua 3, Isaiah 43:1-4, Matthew 14:22-36) gives us a new perspective on the times when we feel underwater. The water will take many luxuries away from us: our breath, our grounded security, our vision, our control. Water serves as a vivid reminder that only God can truly give us the life we desire.


So I ask: Where are you turning your attention to? What questions do you have, and who are you consulting about them? Then, where lies your trust? For if you do not know someone, you will not trust them. This is our ground zero. Get to know your Father, who loves you more than you can comprehend, and maybe you can begin living the questions of your life instead of being paralyzed by them. 

Are your troubles leading you to look to God? Is He getting your attention? That’s a good thing. Are you too angry or scared to tell Him your doubts and fears? Pray them out. He wants to hear. If you have walked with Christ in the light, He will be your comfort and strength in the darkness, no matter how deep the pit, no matter how great the trouble. If you’re lost in your trouble, turn to Him, cry out to Him, and He will open a way for you through the open sea of His covenant care.

Braden holds a Master of Arts of Christian Counseling and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He received a degree in Psychology from Mississippi State University with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a member of the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). He is also a Certified Christian Trauma Care Provider—Level 1. For the past seven years, he and his wife Victoria have worked in counseling ministries, adult Christian education, and with Joni & Friends, a Christ-based ministry to the disabled. Through the Owen Center, Braden pursues a life-calling to serve Christ by cultivating the ministry of biblical counseling in the Auburn community.