Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "How Firm A Foundation"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 77:5-6a – I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. (NIV)
As I write this, we are gripped in the fourth day of winter storms — with yet more snow days expected. We're stuck at home. But that's okay. We're enjoying the preparations made earlier: the stored food, stacked wood, and countless other blessings … like Psalm 77.
I mention Psalm 77 because I find it so fitting. I meditated on it during the wee hours last night, while the wind was howling outside. This psalmist obviously feels terribly stormbound. It is a storm in the night, a storm within his soul raging so badly that God must surely have abandoned him. I think of stormy experiences known only to me, such as the inner torment of regret or of irreparable misunderstanding. The psalmist doesn't disclose his precise problem. But he does disclose a deliberate, calculated plan for coping in this storm. He says, "I thought about the former days, the years of long ago." (Psalm 77:5 NIV)
The psalmist digs deep into the storehouse of his memories. He pulls up a breathtaking audio-visual presentation of God's mighty deeds, a myriad of proofs of God's faithful love. These are the psalmist's "songs in the night".
At first, these "songs in the night" merely remind him of the absence of God's blessings. His nation is stuck in a season of spiritual decline. Perhaps the psalmist has been wounded by the abrasive nature of calloused hearts all around him. Yet note: He doesn't stay stuck in his present woes. He turns his gaze to the bigger picture, and sees a great God of enduring promises. Yes, indeed! God will remain faithful in the future just as He was in the past. The God of the past is the God of the future. This assurance keeps the psalmist from falling apart. He remembers his songs in the night.
We need such songs too! Even modern research declares their benefit for our minds and bodies. Words set to good tunes, and learned well, stick in our memories for the rest of our lives. They're available during dark storms.
In a recent visit, a man sang for me a song that had sustained him during his brutal battle with cancer some years ago. In his darkest hour, he had recalled the song over and over again. That hymn (a setting of Psalm 61) became his best medicine. It was his song in the night.
I was amazed at the power of that song, even during our visit. His wife soon joined in; it had been her song too. Partway through, he began to weep. That stirred me to tears. Through the song, this couple had invited me into a tender place in their hearts. Past memories were stirred; they shared God's countless blessings. Oh, what warm, tender fellowship! I will never forget it.
Do you have a good song repertoire in your memory, to serve as a storehouse of God's faithfulness for the dark storms? I say: Go ahead and learn good songs. Sing them over and over again, those wonderful words of life! This can be your best gift to yourself. After all, well-learned songs last longer than all other memories and can be immensely reviving, even in the final days. If you have your own "song in the night", I'd be delighted if you shared it with me.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the songs that we have learned, even from a young age. Inspire us to learn and share enduring songs of faith. May we encourage one another with our hymns and spiritual songs – and all the more as we see the Day approaching. Amen.