How to Experience a Much-Needed Attitude Adjustment

April 9, 2020

Strength in the Desert, Part 5

How to Experience a Much-Needed Attitude Adjustment

In Psalm 77, Asaph pours out his anxiety and anguish over God’s treatment of Israel. The fate of Israel was so important to him that he felt as if it were himself on trial instead of Israel. While he was waiting on the Lord, he had a big problem: his only source of comfort, God himself, had become a source of anguish. His battle with this anguish was a battle of his heart, specifically his attitude.

Asaph can be very helpful to us in seeing the anatomy of an attitude adjustment. Here are three steps to experience an attitude adjustment so that you can be confident in God’s performance history.

Step 1: Scare Yourself

Scare yourself by refusing all comfort. Asaph explains that his soul refused to be comforted. Sometimes prayer doesn’t grant the instant relief that we are hoping for, but it’s not because it isn’t working. In the case of Asaph, his prayers were not fully confident in God. Instead of receiving comfort from God, he associated God with pain. He bathed in anxiety to the point that he couldn’t sleep or speak. Instead of being comforted by the past blessings of God, he becomes depressed by thinking about the good times that he used to experience.

Step 2: Slap Yourself

At the end of verse 6, Asaph begins to transition from his misery to comfort. He asks himself a series of obviously rhetorical questions that he knows the answers to. He realizes that it is not God that has changed, but rather his sorrow and grief are misleading him.

Step 3: Soothe Yourself

Now, instead of refusing all comfort, he takes comfort. The amazing paradox here is that the same memories that brought such grief to Asaph now shine in their own glory as evidence of how marvelous God is and always will be. Instead of associating God with pain, he associates God with pleasure in verse 13. Instead of bathing in anxiety, he begins to bathe in peace by remembering that God is mighty to redeem and rescue. Instead of letting past blessings from God depress him, he lets them cheer him in verses 16-20. A biblical list of God’s faithfulness should soothe you, which is why knowing the character of God in the story of redemptive history is so important.

Secular psychology would counsel you to analyze your past to see who to blame, while Asaph would counsel you to analyze your past to see whom to bless. The first twelve verses of this psalm are filled with statements about Asaph himself, but beginning in verse 13 his emphasis changes to God. So when you’re waiting and God seems to be silent, remember his wonders of old, ponder all his work, and meditate on his mighty deeds.

Steve Swartz, D.Min

Dr. Swartz serves as Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Bakersfield, California and is a guest instructor at John MacArthur’s Grace Advance Academy, a church-planting training program. Dr. Swartz is the author of numerous books, including Strength in the River, Joyful Generosity, Shattered Shepherds, and The Essential Church.

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