Has God forgotten to be gracious? (Psalm 77:9)
The pain of loss can lead you to feel alone, even forgotten. The lack of answers to your Why questions. A lack of a sense of what society calls closure; that is, the acceptance of what has happened and the transition to something new. The drying up of the stream of encouraging phone calls, or mail. In all of this, you may wonder where God is. Your heart may speculate whether he, too, has forgotten you.
But he has not.
The healing you long to experience may not come right away. It rarely does. It will take time. You need to accept that, and be patient. By the time the writer of Psalm 77 asked, “Has God forgotten to be gracious?” he had already been earnestly crying out to him.
“I cry aloud to God,” he begins, “aloud to God, and he will hear me” (v.1). Limping alongside his grief; intertwined with his pain, are cries of faith. “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted” (v. 2).
Fueling his cries of faith is the pain that will not go away, but lingers. Not physical pain, but the inner pain of sorrow. Loss. Hurt that persists. But God does not find this man’s questions offensive. No. God welcomes his lament.
“When I remember God, I moan, when I meditate, my spirit faints. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (vv. 3-4).
He moans, yes. But he moans in faith…to God. That is, his complaint does not flow from unbelief, but is evidence of an active faith—faith that longs for the completion of the incomplete, the resolution of the unresolved. When the aches of our heart thrust us toward the only One who can bring true, lasting comfort, then it serves a good purpose. Even if we can’t see anything good in the tragic event that triggered our grief.
Pain has the potential to stimulate growth in our relationship with God, since it often reawakens us to eternal realities. In this way, God can use our sorrow to draw us closer to him.
You are not forgotten.
God has not forgotten to be gracious. To the contrary, it is because of his grace that he remembers you. He is nurturing your faith, so that it will not wither or get stale.
***This article is now published in the devotional A SMALL BOOK FOR THE HURTING HEART: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing.