When I locate a problem, I often fixate on it. I think that if I analyze it enough, I can solve it. This is a problem when I come to difficult issues that require someone else’s expertise. Stubbornly, I want to figure out the problem myself. I want to be self-sufficient. When God is the only one who can solve my problem, I’ve just created an impossible scenario.
When the psalmist hit troubling times and questioned the things that were accepted truths in his life, he didn’t seek his answer from anyone but God. When he felt far from God and questioned all he had taken for granted, the questions he asks are close to those in our own hearts: “Why God? Have you removed your favor?” (Psa 77:7). “Has your steadfast love ceased forever?” (Psa 77:8). “Do your promises end?” (Psa 77:8).
It would have been tempting to dwell on his personal experiences to answer these questions. But instead, the psalmist turns to study God’s redemptive work. This seems counter-intuitive to us, but we find this practice throughout the psalms. Why doesn’t the psalmist simply address the problem at hand? He knew that to understand God’s work in the present, he had to look to the past. He had to consider God’s work in humanity—His wonders of old, mighty deeds, holy ways, and power among the peoples. Ultimately, though, the psalmist looks to God’s work of redemption in the exodus from Egypt. He needed a backward glance—a look at God’s faithfulness to His people in the past.
We have an even greater redemptive story than the exodus. When things seem to go wrong, when we question God’s plan for our life, we can look back to Christ’s work on the cross. We’re not leaving our story for another one when we do this; instead, we’re acknowledging Christ’s ongoing work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. His work sets our entire life in perspective.
When life seems complicated, don’t try to be self-sufficient. When your emotions dictate otherwise, take a backward glance at the cross and reckon in your mind and heart what is already true of God’s love for you. There has never been such a testament of His love. Then take a faithful step forward, trusting in Him.
How are you trying to be self-sufficient? How are you taking a backward glance at the cross and stepping forward in faith?