A Word for Troubled Souls

“How has your semester been?” 

This is not always an easy question to answer. Whether it’s roommate troubles, stressful classes, or homesickness, there’s a lot of room for discouragement in college. You could be like me and have health issues where your body prevents you from doing things you want or need to do. Often with these disappointments and struggles comes grief, as well as lost time, opportunities, or even relationships. With the overwhelming nature of these issues, it can seem hard to understand how God fits into it all. 

However, we are not alone, and Psalm 77 gives us some valuable insight into how to deal with troubles. The author begins, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God and he will hear me” (vs. 1). First and foremost, the psalmist does what is often so hard to do and reaches out to God. He understands that the One who can help him most is listening and there for him.

The psalm continues, “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted” (vs. 2). How many restless nights have you spent, friend? I know I’ve had my fair share. How often is rest not truly restful for you? The author describes his struggle in a heartbreaking way. His very soul cannot even accept comfort in this moment. Do your hurts make it seem impossible to be comforted? Perhaps it’s not as extreme. Maybe you just resist comfort and compassion for your struggles because you don’t want to need it. However you are handling your troubles, this Psalm is for you. 

As the psalmist details this emotional process, he asks the kinds of questions many of us dare not pose: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?” (vs. 2) and “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (vs. 9).

This man of God is admitting confusion with God at that moment. He is doubting God’s faithfulness and struggling to understand His promises. For many of us, this is scary to think about. But for others, this is all too familiar. We’ve had similar thoughts and asked similar questions, whether aloud or not. What is God planning for me? Why me? Doesn’t God love me? 

Despite his doubt, the author reaches a beautiful conclusion. He writes “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High’” (vs. 10).

So often we struggle to see God’s hand or hear God’s voice, but we’ve been blessed with amazing examples in His Word. We have a written collection of His promises for our lives.

The psalm continues, “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (vs. 12). We so often look for how God is speaking in our lives at this very moment that we fail to start at the original and ultimate record found in His word. It was written thousands of years ago but is applicable to our lives at this very moment.

He later remembers, “You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph” (vs. 15). This seemingly throwaway line really is the crux of the psalm. As believers, we have been redeemed. Our biggest trouble and worst predicament has already been solved. While that doesn’t promise us an easy life, it does show us how incredibly loved and valued we are. The mighty creator of the universe died because He loves us. Friend, He died for you. 

I can’t pretend to know what future God has for you or why you’re facing the trials you are. But I do know this, He is for you, and your troubles do not go unnoticed. He has walked with you through the fire and He continues to walk with you through anything the future may hold. The psalmist finishes, “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (vs. 20). So let yourself be led by the gentle shepherd and comforted by His loving arms. Lean into the love God has for you and see how faithful He really is.
*All Scripture taken from ESV unless otherwise noted.