We’ve all seen some kind of concert put on by kids. Either at church or school, most people have been to a children’s assembly of some sort. The kids, the smaller the better, line up as the teacher directs them. They’ve been practicing for weeks, rehearsing their lines, singing their songs, and now the big day is finally here. The costumes are on, the crowd is in their seats, and almost without fail, the kids break from the plan.
What do they do? They wave, of course.
You’ve seen it. The youngsters scan the crowd until they find their parents, and don’t stop waving until Mom and Dad say hi. They stick their hands up high, motioning back and forth, Hey, it’s me! It’s me! Dad, it’s me! This isn’t choreographed. You won’t find it in the program. But nobody minds. In fact, we can’t help but smile. It’s cute. We like it, as long as some parental figure is there to answer back.
But imagine for an instance that you’re at this concert and you begin to see this familiar scene unfold. It happens like usual, but this time there is one kid who won’t stop waving. He’s found his dad, he’s waved and called and jumped up and down, but Dad doesn’t respond.
Imagine, if you will, that this keeps happening all throughout the concert, that the event is over and everyone leaves until only two people are left in the auditorium. It’s just the kid on the stage and the dad in the seats. The kid keeps waving; the dad keeps still. This goes on for hours. Then the lights go off. The floors have been swept, the trash cans emptied, the building is closed. But the kid is still there, now standing in the dark, waving without weariness, calling out to the man sitting silent in the seats: Dad, it’s me! It’s me!
In the Silence
There’s nothing feel-good about that, though it’s not an uncommon experience, at least not how that kid must have felt, at least not for the psalmist in Psalm 77.
This psalm of Asaph begins, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 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” (Psalms 77:1–2).
He’s calling out and won’t stop. He’s stretching forth his hand in the dark, waving it back and forth. “The true rendering is,” according to John Peter Lange, “My hand was stretched forth in the night and was not still” — which is not so different from the kid at the concert. His arm is held up, his hand continues motioning, but he’s getting no answer. Why is God just sitting there? Why isn’t he answering me back? These are the questions asked in such circumstances, the questions that become brushfires across the dry terrain of our parched souls. They are the questions that eventually beget questions like,
Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion? (Psalm 77:7–9)
Where He Leads Us
In one sense, though we really feel them, these are silly questions. We might as well ask if God has stopped being God. Remember, after all, that steadfast love is not merely what he does, but who he is. Grace is his essence. Compassion is his heart. His faithfulness doesn’t have a cap. His promises aren’t limited by quotas (Exodus 34:5–7). To ask these things then, to wonder if God has ceased his love, is to worry that God has changed, that somehow he’s not who he used to be. We actually go here sometimes. We think like this sometimes when we’re in the dark, waving our hands back and forth, wondering what’s wrong with God.
We tend to think that the kid at the concert is so patient to keep waving, but in reality, it’s the dad who is so patient to keep letting him.
God doesn’t have to take you where he does. He doesn’t have to sit there and let you keep waving. He sees you. He hears you. He could say one word and you’d know it. But he doesn’t, and it must be because there’s something glorious that happens in those moments of our waiting.
He leads us, perhaps by his circumstantial silence, to remember all the things he’s already said. That’s where the psalmist goes, and where he intends to take us. Psalm 77:11–14:
I will remember the deeds of the Lᴏʀᴅ;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
We know who he is. We know he doesn’t change. We can keep waving to God, as long as we keep remembering his deeds. We can recall his works, and know that he knows. Dad, you know it’s me. I know you know it’s me. And I know you are the God who works wonders.
God Works Wonders
“Wonders.” This is an important word in the Old Testament. It hearkens back to God’s work in the exodus, when he, majestic in holiness, rescued his people through glorious deeds and wonders (Exodus 15:11). It’s the work of God for the sake of his people that we’d never expect. It’s the kind you never forget, the kind that changes things. And it’s what the psalmist needs to remember about God. He needs to remember that God is faithful to his promises, that he will do everything he says he’ll do — even if it turns the world’s wisdom upside down. This is where he goes when he’s waving in the silence of the night, and it’s where we can join him.
We also need to remember that God works wonders, and that there’s a cross to prove it. We can pray with the psalmist, meditating on God’s mighty deeds, by focusing straight on the mightiest of them all.
God works wonders — in the deep, mysterious ways that nobody saw coming that Friday at Golgotha. The Messiah slain? The Son of God crucified? God works wonders — in the confusion of Jesus’s disciples as they held his lifeless body, unbroken, buried in a borrowed grave, surrounded by darkness. God works wonders — in the early Sunday morning when Mary found the tomb empty, when she ran to tell the disciples, when Thomas refused to believed, when Jesus showed up to him eight days later and said, stretching out his arms, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27).
Wave in the dark. Call out his name. And know that he hears, that he is there, that he is the God who works wonders — and he will answer in his perfect timing.