Despair is a spiritual abyss. It is a black hole of the soul. It is treacherous quicksand.
In Psalm 77, Asaph is overwhelmed by despair. He had cried out to God, and He had given ear to him (v. 1); yet, Asaph despaired! “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing”; yet, “my soul refused to be comforted” (v. 2). “I remembered God and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed…I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (vv. 3-4). Asaph’s despair was fueled by tenacious doubts and fears—”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?” What a wretched state of despair!
As incredible as it may sound, Asaph rescued himself from this melancholic nightmare of trust issues! He took deliberate, purposeful, and determined action to escape the horrific clutches of despair. “And I said, ‘This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord; surely, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work and talk of Your deeds. 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” (vv. 10-15).
Asaph’s trip down memory lane was not for nostalgic purposes. It reminded him that even though his forefathers were afflicted, oppressed, forced to serve with rigor, afflicted with legalized infanticide, groaning under the weight of their onerous bonds of slavery, God provided a way of escape. “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” (vv. 16-20).
Could anyone’s future look more bleaker and foreboding, more desperate and depressing, more hopeless than the children of Israel when enslaved to the Egyptians? Yet, God delivered them.
He still leads His people like a flock.
By the hand of the Jesus, the Good Shepherd.