Psalm 77:4 You hold my eyes open
This morning in my quiet time, I was in Psalm 77, and just as so very many Psalms have to do with how to relate to our troubles, and to God in our times of troubles, so this one does. But, I think that the reason that so many of the Psalms are like that has to do with the fact that so much of our lives are like that. To quote Wesley (aka Dread Pirate Roberts) “life is pain.” It’s striking that the Psalmists knew this about life and didn’t feel the need to hide from it. So often, we’re tempted to ignore this fact, else we appear whiny. But, it’s not whiny to simply acknowledge the difficulty and pain that we’re facing. It only becomes whining when our pain causes us to begin fault God. That’s a fine line to walk, to be sure, but to tell God that things are difficult and plead for his help is different than being angry or resentful at him for the pain in your life.
And for the most part, that seems to be the constant tension that the Psalmists hold, and hold rightly. There are some times where it seems they begin to blame God wrongly, but they always move toward a right view of God and his work in suffering.
And that is what I encountered today.
Psalm 77 begins by saying “I cry aloud to God, in the day of my trouble I seek the Lord.” And then, after that, he lists some things that he’s feeling. He says “my soul refuses to be comforted” and “when I remember God, I moan” and “when I meditate, my spirit faints”. He even says “I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”
And each of those is something I’ve felt so many times. When he says “my soul refuses to be comforted” I completely understood. There have been times when someone has attempted to give me gospel comfort, and I just didn’t want it. “Don’t preach to me!” I’ve said. It seems so often that when I’m in a low place because of difficulty or pain in my life, that I don’t actually want to be comforted. Those feelings of self-pity and resentment can become a type of friend that isn’t good for you, but nevertheless, we can get addicted to them.
I’ve also felt the temptation to “moan” and “faint” when thinking of or praying to God. So often, when we are at our lowest, we don’t want to turn to God. Again, just as when our souls refuse to be comforted by others, we also refuse to seek out what we know is best for us on our own.
And if we keep it up, continuing to refuse God, who is our “only comfort in life and death”, then we will eventually find ourselves unable to even speak. We get so depressed, so weighed down by the pain in our life, that we just can’t even imagine going on.
And that seems to be what the Psalmist was feeling. As he goes on he says “has God’s steadfast love forever ceased? Has God forgotten to be gracious?”
And although today I wasn’t struggling with these feelings, I certainly have felt this, and I know others who have also, and so I was seeing these thoughts that the Psalmist poured out and telling God “Lord, keep me from these thoughts.” And I noticed that the Psalm goes on and that he eventually realizes that God has been good, and that he will always continue to be good and to deliver.
But, right in the middle of the passage where the Psalmist is describing his pain and his terrible feelings, there is a single line that just blew me away.
It’s the beginning of verse 4. It says “you hold my eyelids open.”
Right in the middle of describing how he cannot find and will not seek comfort, he says that God holds his eyes open. That’s amazing. What a wonderful thought, that God would do this. Why?
Because it’s this beautiful picture of what God has committed to do for his people.
One of the things that I do when I’m praying is to pray Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things from your law.” I pray that God would open my eyes to see his word, because if he does not illuminate my reading, I will see nothing of value.
And here, in the midst of despair, the Psalmist writes “you hold my eyes open.”
It’s as if God is saying “my commitment to you is that even when your own soul refuses my love, I will show it to you anyway.” And it’s so amazing that the Psalmist begins to bemoan his situation, but then turns afterward and says “I will appeal to this…I will remember the deeds of the Lord.” It’s as if all of the sudden, he is granted a moment of clarity and remember how wonderful God is, and how infinite his grace and mercy are. And why is that? Because it’s not depended upon himself, but on God, who holds his eyes open.
And in my life, I’ve found that there have been countless times where I’ve been down in the dumps, and God has just mercifully reminded me of his grace, and comforted me with it.
And, as I think about the beautiful sovereign God we serve, who does not wait for our souls to change their tunes before he pours his love anew into our hearts, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by what a comfort this is. God is utterly committed to keeping your eyes open to see and behold his glory. And that may not be a comfort right now, but that’s the whole point…he is in control of your comfort, and he will not let your eyes stay closed to his love forever.
And, as I meditated further on this, I began thinking about how God’s commitment to hold my eyes open is really the intercessory work of Christ. He is the one who restores AND keeps our relationship with God. He continually intercedes for us, and constantly works to keep our eyes open to God. We could say that he “always lives to make” us see God. And if that’s the case, then God’s commitment to restoring your joy and hope in him is as firm as Christ’s resurrected life is true. If Jesus is alive, then God will bring comfort to you again. He will hold your eyes open.
So, my prayer for you today is that God would hold your eyes open. I pray that he would remind you of his goodness and grace, and that he would comfort you. God hasn’t forgotten to be gracious, he is always with you, and he will not let your eyes be closed forever.