Praying Through the Bible #66
TEXT: Psalm 102
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible”. The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have done 65 messages in this series.
This is message #66, titled “3 Things to Consider When it Seems Like God is Silent”. The reason why I say “it seems like” God is silent is because as we will see, God is never really silent. He is simply trying to communicate with us in a different way. In other words, there is a reason for the “silence.”
When you find yourself in tragic circumstances, some of the best words you can hear is someone sincerely saying, “I know how you feel.” When you know someone else is suffering, sometimes, the best thing you can say is simply “I know how you feel”, if you truly do know how they feel — that is, if you have actually been where they are in life. It is amazing to realize that even today, with all of our technological advancement, with all of the knowledge we have gained from studying psychology, theology, and philosophy, we can still look at the pages of Scripture written thousands of years ago and find that the Word of God speaks to us today. It is as if the writers of the Bible are saying, in part, “I know how you feel.” Psalm 102 is one of those passages.
This passage is described as a lament — “a prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before Jehovah.” Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your circumstances? Then you can understand where the writer of this psalm is coming from. We can identify with him and he with us.
The only thing worse than feeling as though we are drowning in our circumstances is feeling as though we are drowning and that God is not responding to our cries for help. That is the predicament that we find this psalmist in. He is praying for help, he is calling for God’s assistance, but he is not receiving a response. It is like calling 9-1-1 and not getting an answer. This psalmist raises his lament because it seems as though God is silent.
Notice, however, that though this is a lament, it is not a complaint. The psalmist is not throwing in the towel; he is not giving up on God. Jason Jackson of The Christian Courier notes that “While laments of a similar structure can be found in Babylonian literature, the laments of the Psalms are inspired. They are not to be construed as rambling complaints, but the songs are from-the-soul prayers to God. Their writers seek for divinely approved solutions in the management and resolution of real problems.”
With that in mind, I want us to look at this passage today and consider briefly three things that we ought to consider when we are faced with what seems like the silence of God.
1. God’s silence ought to serve as a reminder that God is sovereign. After several verses of lament, the psalmist turns his focus from his own real life problems to what he knows about God. In verse 10 he says, “Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down… but thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever.”
2. God’s silence ought to serve as a reminder of God’s presence. Yes, my friends, just because God is silent, it does not mean that God is absent. The psalmist goes on to say, “This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth.”
3. God’s silence ought to serve as a reminder that we need to pay attention to God’s voice. You see, sometimes, the problem is not that God is not speaking, but that we are not listening to Him. In verses 21 & 22, the psalmist gives another reason why God looks down from Heaven. That reason is “To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.”