“Do not grumble…” James 5:9a
We can all tend toward grumbling when things seem to go wrong in our life. A humorous, but all too common attitude was revealed in a little tune from a comedy program on TV a number of years ago that said:
“Gloom, Despair, agony on me,
Deep dark depression, excessive misery,
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,
Doom, despair, and agony on me!”
The writer of Psalm 77 found himself in that kind of a distress at one point. From his writing we get a peek at his attitude, and how he recovered and developed a thankful heart.
“I cried out to God with my voice–To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.” Ps 77:1-6
Within these first 6 verses we find twenty times the psalmist spoke from himself, about himself or for himself. He was quite preoccupied with himself and his concerns. We will see that his focus on himself led him to grumbling.
This led to these kind of questions:
“Will the Lord cast off forever?” Verse 7 (He has doubts about God’s care for him)
“And will He be favorable no more?” (He has doubts about His love)
“Has His mercy ceased forever?” Verse 8 (He has doubts about God’s mercy)
“Has His promise failed forevermore? “ (He has doubts about the truth of God’s word)
“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Verse 9 (He doubted God’s faithfulness)
“Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” (He had doubts about God’s kind intentions)
“And I said, “This is my anguish;” Verse 10 (Ohh… “Gloom, despair, agony on me!”)
It seems that everybody finds themselves there, some time or other. In fact, a recent poll said 65% of the population says they feel under great stress at least once a week. A survey revealed what many of them do to cope with their stress:
82% watch TV read or listen to music. (i.e. zone out)
76% talk it out with a significant other
40% smoke or drink
36% go shopping
What we find is that the writer of this psalm found the key to turning his complaining around. He had one thing left that he utilized, and was able to turn himself around from the depression he found himself in; the ability to remember.
A marvelous thing begins to happen to this man when he flips his memory from the bad to the good. It was like switching a train from one track to another. It was going down hill fast. But suddenly it catches a new track and is going upward instead.
We see four steps here as he regains his focus and the depression begins to lift. As this man did these four things, his outlook on life and about God changed. Suddenly he got “GOD” focused: Below are the four steps he took to freedom from his “whoa is me” syndrome.
Verse 10 …But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” He began to think of the times God was real to him. Stored in his memory were times when God showed power and grace on his behalf.
Verse 11: I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. He recalled some times when God worked wonders on behalf of others. These are the historical accounts from both contemporary and Biblical history, such as the time when God delivered Moses and the people through the midst of the Red Sea.
Verse 13- 20 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah …Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Verse 12: I will also meditate on all Your work, He began to speak to himself about the works of God. The sobering thing about what we think about is that we become what we think about.
Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds,
You can plant flowers, or you can plant weeds.
The word “Meditate” is from the Hebrew word which literally means “to talk under one’s breath”. – This guy started mumbling to himself about God’s power and grace.
“And talk of Your deeds.”
He gave testimony of God’s grace. He began to recount to others all the ways God had been good to him. His confession turned from complaining to thanksgiving and praise. “Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders.” Ps 77:13