Many years ago, we ran a small corner shop. As with most businesses, it was a very tight budget to start off with. The first year, however, was a year of answered prayer. We’d need money to meet a bill by a set time, we’d pray, and the customers would flock in, spending enough for our needs to be met. Then suddenly at the end of that year, it stopped happening, and it was a real struggle to keep the cash flow going. We felt God was asking us whether we would still love and trust him if the miracles stopped happening – were we seeking his face, or just his hand? But after a while, God introduced us to better ways to run our business, and we began to operate more effectively. Good eh?
My life seems to have gone in seasons – some with plenty, and some with plenty of bills! And this is what I’m seeing in Psalm 44. Verses 1-8 is a joyful account of the stories of his forefathers – battles wonderfully won, the nation brought into security, a loving Father God caring for his children. Then verse 9 onwards tells the story of the struggles the writer was facing in his time. Rejection, humiliation, defeat: had God forgotten them? Yet he still believed God’s love is unfailing, and continued to call on him for help.
It strikes me, that the forefathers, living through those victorious days, did not have so glossy a view of them. Up close, they saw the privations of the wilderness, the losses incurred in the battles (albeit won), the struggles to trust God through each sweaty assault, the in-fighting, the rebellions, the anxiety, the weariness… The truth is, we have not been promised easy lives, and everyone has their own struggles to work through, however glossy their lives look to others. The point is, that God’s love is unfailing, and even though it may take time, he will work it through in the end. He is thoroughly trustworthy.
The other thing that I love in this psalm, is v3. God’s face lights up, not because we win victories, but when we trust him through those struggles. Because he loves us.