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Psalm 77 was written by Asaph. He laments over the distress of his life (vs. 1-2). He cries out to the Lord and it appears as if God does not answer his plea.
Asaph inquires in verses 7-9, “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will he be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” [NKJV]
Asaph knew the truth well. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder why the answer did not come. Asaph’s affliction brought the man of God to his knees. When in great distress, he had to choose to call upon the Lord for an answer.
Asaph’s affliction brought him back to the place where he began to encourage himself by looking back and remembering the past moves of God. He recalled how God had delivered His people from the mighty Egyptians. Nothing could have been bleaker than four-hundred years of slavery under a Pharaoh who ruled with an iron fist. Pharaoh had slaughtered children and treated God’s people like dogs.
It was a desperate time, but God saw their distress and answered him powerfully, just as Asaph wrote:
The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 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. [Psalm 77:16-20, NKJV]
If there ever is a time to look back at God’s blessing over our country, now is the time. Racial unrest is at an all-time high. The shooting of 12 policemen in Dallas that resulted in five deaths, and the 3 officers killed in Baton Rouge has brought the United States to its knees once again. We have been in dire straits before and it was the goodness of God that brought spiritual revival to get America back on course.
Charles Finney was one of the key evangelists who ushered in the Second Great Awakening in American in the late 19th century.
He describes the spiritual and moral condition of the people of Antwerp, New York in 1868. He was scheduled to hold revival meetings in Antwerp; he arrived early to assess the town’s spiritual condition. It was unlike anything he had ever faced. Antwerp was hardened, fallow ground. It was a town so dark that even the great evangelist found himself affected. As he rode through the village, he was gripped by terror he couldn’t easily explain.
Here it was, springtime, and the neighbors should be delighted to be outdoors greeting one another, yet the air around him was filled with the constant sound of profanity.
Finney was appalled to see how the people treated one another. The environment was toxic! Nearly every man went about cursing, swearing and damning one another. Finney felt he had entered a town that resided on the borders of hell itself.
What happened in Antwerp and the surrounding area? Revival broke out!
In his first meeting, Finney boldly called out the town’s sins while letting loose his whole heart upon them.
“I told them they seemed to howl blasphemy about the streets like hell-hounds, and it seemed to me that I had arrived on the very verge of hell.”
Every man and woman in attendance became painfully aware of their guilt before God. Surprisingly, no one was offended. Instead, they broke into tears and repented of their sins and received forgiveness through Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Finney preached boldly with words, but he displayed compassion clearly with tears.
The Holy Spirit flowed mightily through evangelists like Charles Finney to change America. In Finney’s meetings in Rochester, New York, over one-hundred thousand people were born again. The entire city was changed in a matter of months.
We too can look back at what God has done – not just in biblical history, but in our own nation’s history. You can do it personally as well. Look back at the times when God moved on your behalf. Don’t live so present-minded that you forget all God has done for you.
Go back to the day you were saved. Go back to when you were healed. Go back to the moment of breakthrough and start to praise Him that He will do it again.