Are You Asleep Oh Lord? A Practise in Devastating Times.

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war in Ukrain

Seeing the war in Europe unfolding, or facing personal difficulty, you might think; “Are You Asleep oh Lord?”

That is not a strange feeling. It even comes from the ancient psalm 44.

Psalm 44 is a psalm of communal lament, written a few thousands years ago and still so very timeless. Its read in synagoges, temples, fields and cathedrals, bedrooms and battlefields.

The author is in conversation with God and doesn’t mind adressing the Lord in a passionate way: Why do You sleep? (vers 23)

I struggled a lot to understand this psalm. On the one hand, the writer calls Him “my King” (vs. 4), and on the other hand, he blames God: You have rejected us and disgraced us. (vs. 9) This is seemingly so contradictory. I lacked an understanding of context. So, I took up the ESV Study Bible and found something that greatly encouraged me, which I will gladly share here.

I especially loved the intimate way of prayer and conversation with God. And the structure! It is like a journal. The people of God are faithfully journeying with Him. (1) In the meantime, a lot is going on.—(2) battles, despair, hardship and suffering. But the people want to stay faithful, and remind God of that (3) (renew their covenant, in a way), and pray boldly: (4) Come, Lord! You are steadfast in Your love for us. Help us, therefore, out of this situation. (5) Redeem us for the sake of Your steadfast love! Ps. 44: 26

A practise

So, now, if you want to dive into this psalm a bit deeper, get a notebook, a pen, and some time apart to think about a certain period in your life (now, or in the past) and write out step by step what you would love to say to God.

Five steps in an ancient prayer in Psalm 44.

  1. Remind yourself of the journey with God. The psalm opens with a recounting of what God did for them. (1–8)1; drove out the nations; planted his people there; saved them from their foes. And because of all that, give thanks to His name forever. (8)

Now for your own situation:

Remind yourself of your journey with God and how you have travelled with Him so far (and He with you). Use a few lines to write this down.

  1. Tell God what bothers you. After the people in the psalm remember what God did in the past, they say, “But now, we are rejected!” God has rejected and disgraced them and allowed the nations to taunt them.

Now for your own situation:

Tell God what bothers you. Why are you upset? What is your need? 

  1. Stay focused on God; do not lose heart; renew your love for Him. The people in the psalm reply with: “But we still love You!” (we have not forsaken You!) (17) 

Now for your own situation:

If you face difficulty, stay focused on God; do not lose heart, and renew your love for Him.

  1. Tell the difficulty. The people say what is happening: “We are killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” Paul says later in Rom. 8:36 that God’s people have always had to face such situations, yet they must not conclude that they are thereby separated from the love of Christ.

Now for your own situation:

Speak the difficulty. Open up your heart, and write down what it is. In the psalm, it is also quite passionate: Why are You asleep, o Lord?

  1. Remind God of His steadfast love. Pray boldly. Therefore: Lord, come now to help us. They pray boldly and remind God of His own steadfast love.

Now for your very own situation:

Remind God of His steadfast love. Pray boldly. “Catch God with his own words,” is a quote from Martin Luther. He might have gotten it from this psalm, because the psalm closes with: Redeem us, for the sake of Your steadfast love! Ps. 44 : 26

I hope that this exercise deepens your relation with God.

Maybe you struggle a lot in these weeks. May this practise be of encouragement for you. That is my wish.

Kind regards, where ever you are.


P.s. We’ve seen the huge impact in a post war country as Croatia.

I wrote about that before:

Natasha fights for peace

Laura’s story

How ecumenical contacts are oxygen for the soul

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