A God Who Can Take It
Has God’s steadfast love ceased forever? Are God’s promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has God in anger shut up all compassion? – Psalm 77:8-9
And God said, “Ouch.”
Whoever wrote Psalm 77 took off the gloves before picking up the stylus. The psalmist is in a world of hurt and takes on the Creator of the whole world. To continue the boxing metaphor, the writer doesn’t pull any punches in expressing their anger and grief. Instead, the psalmist uses God’s own words against the Almighty, accusing God of reneging on the steadfast love, grace, and compassion God once promised.
The New Revised Standard Version titles Psalm 77 as “God’s Mighty Deeds Recalled,” but it could also be titled, “Where in God’s name are You?” Yes, eventually, the psalmist remembers God’s “wonders of old,” parting the Red Sea and leading the people like a shepherd. But that remembrance comes only after the psalmist has poured out their fear and disappointment in God and to God.
I thank God for Psalm 77’s brutal honesty. It’s good news for the rest of us, or at least for those of us who have sometimes also felt abandoned or betrayed by God (which is probably most of us). Psalm 77 affirms we don’t have to pretend everything is okay when it isn’t. We don’t have to protect God from ourselves, not even from our anger or anguish. God can take it.
Our God is able—able to hear our anger and deal with our disappointment, able to hold our grief and despair. That is a God we can trust.
Thanks be to you, God of our whole lives.
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.