Saturday, February 5, 2011

Insomnia, Love, and The Grand Story of God

I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. Psalm 77:1-3 (NLT)

I'm not sure exactly what was going on in the life of Asaph, but it is certain that he was deeply troubled. In way of reference, he was the grandson of Samuel, choirmaster for David, and the writer of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. But whatever was going on in his life, when he wrote Psalm 77, he was drowning. In what I'm not sure: financial trouble, relational trouble, family problems, maybe work related stress, or it could have been the troubles that come to our own mind when we struggle with insomnia. It is obvious that whether the stress produced insomnia or the insomnia produced stress, Asaph blamed God for his lack of sleep.

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. (vs 4-6, NKJV emphasis mine)

I have been there. Have you? That closing in feeling that causes you to lie awake at night, one eye open, the other tightly closed, "shouting to God." Praying to the Father with hands outstretched to heaven, like a small child pleading to a parent to pick them up and comfort them. And the stress continues, and the situation, on the surface, seems hopeless...almost like fate itself is against you, like you cannot win/overcome this situation/have any hope, any longer. Asaph believed he was fated for doom; that God had abandoned him...

And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” (vs10 NLT)

But with one word--remember--he moves from despair to hope...

But then I remember all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations. (vs 11-12 NLT)

It is funny, because I think that we sometimes forget that we make up a small part in a grand story. But like Asaph, we must remember that the grand story is not about us and our struggles, but about God and His great faithfulness and love. While we may be drowning in debt, divorce, depression , or dissatisfaction, God is more powerful than the waters.

When the waters saw you, O God, the waters looked and trembled! The sea quaked to its very depths... Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds. (16, 19-20 NLT)

Our troubles, the waters that are pouring over us, the things of our nightmares and insomnia, TREMBLE when we remember God, and His story. When we remember the way He has saved us in the past. The way that He has loved us, with a never ending love.

Have you ever shouted at God? You don't have to, He knows your feelings. Yet it might be helpful for you to yell sometimes. Many times in the Psalms we read of people shouting to Jehovah. Like any relationship, YOU must let your emotions have some say so. This is true in human and divine relationships. One of my favorite passages on prayer is James 5:16, " The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." The word fervent is the Greek word Energeo and it means "to put forth power." It's where we get the English word for energy. "Pray with power," James tells us. Shout to the Lord!

J.C. Ryle once said, "Let us knock loudly at the door of grace and settle in our own minds that cold prayers are a sacrifice with out fire."

Are you full of insomnia? Stress? Troubles? Then remember that God loves you, and shout to the heavens! Pray with a fervent heat, and most of all, trust Him with your little story, and you'll be suprised to see how well it lines up with His grand one.

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