By Anthony Casperson

Earlier this week I read Psalm 77 for my morning devotions. In the bible from which I read, there are little titles telling what the chapter is about. Above Psalm 77 it said “God helps in times of trouble.”

I like the sentiment.

But as I read the psalm, I saw Asaph (the person who wrote this psalm) struggling in the darkness. He’s reached out for God all night long and there is no morning light. He feels no comfort. Thinking about God brings only groaning. And reading Scripture leads to a weakening in his spirit.

He’s doing everything we usually tell people who are suffering to do. He’s praying…but no answer. He’s looking to God…but only pain. He’s reading the bible…but his inner being is discouraged. There doesn’t seem to be any help.

“God helps in times of trouble”? The psalm doesn’t say that yet.

Asaph continues. It seems like God is keeping sleep from the psalmist. And words are kept from his mouth. He decides to focus more on the worship songs of his people (perhaps even some of them the ones that he wrote himself). He seeks hope in the times that God has helped him in the past. And he puts major effort into it.

But seeking answers left him only greater questions. Is God never going to help me again? Has God’s endless love found its end in me? Are all of God’s promises nothing for me? Did God forget me? Or has he found some fault in me that’s unforgivable?

Asaph tries to count his blessings, the things that God has done for him before, but to no avail. Looking there only makes this place he’s in feel darker. The light of what he’d had before dimming in the face of his current circumstances.

“God helps in times of trouble”? The psalm doesn’t say that yet.

The psalmist attempts to look beyond himself and to the people of God. Maybe his self perspective is blinding him to some deeper truth. He thinks about all of the things that God did for his people throughout their history.

And he sees God clearly. God is holy, set apart, totally different. No god of the nations is like him. He’s done great things and mighty deeds. Ever since God bought his people out of the land of Egypt, he’s done great things for his chosen people, the children of Jacob, the people of Israel.

But even in this clarity of who God is, there’s still no answer. The things that are keeping Asaph up at night have not been dealt with. His questions remain.

“God helps in times of trouble”? The psalm doesn’t say that yet.

Asaph digs deeper into the redemption of his people. God’s mighty deed when he parted the waters before the newly-founded nation of Israel. The water fared God. It moved right out of his way. The earth, the water, the sky, all quaked in God’s presence and did his bidding.

God led the people through a great time of trouble. He was unseen. His miracles and mighty deeds were seen, but God was not. God’s leading of his people came even when there seemed to be no answer.

“God helps in times of trouble”? I like the sentiment. And believe that there are plenty of other places in the bible that tell us this. But I don’t think that’s the point of this psalm.

There are plenty of times when the answers of waiting on God, praying to God, reading the bible, remembering one’s blessings, and even remembering God’s previous deeds can give us the answers that we need in our times of trouble. But there are times when those answers don’t work.

There are times when God’s faithfulness has to be good enough of an answer. When we have looked everywhere and not found the answer, God’s faithfulness doesn’t change. When we have grown tired and question God, he is the same faithful God.

When we find no help in times of trouble, God is faithful.

It might not be in our timing, or the way we would do it, but God knows what he’s doing. He might seem far from us, his blessings might seem to have ceased, but God is there.

He is faithful, even when we don’t see him.