When All Seems Lost
Today we celebrate Easter, the greatest day on the calendar for a follower of Christ. It marks the day Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be overstated. It is the most important event in all of history. It is the one event that sets Christianity apart from every other religion of the world. It’s such a great historical event, that it shifted the day of worship for the people of God from the traditional Sabbath on the 7th day of the week to the 1st day of the week (Sunday), since that is the day Christ rose from the dead. Everything hinges on this event. So, you might ask, why on earth are we looking at Psalm 74 this morning? It’s such a downer.
We’re looking at Psalm 74 because it illustrates a time of complete despair for the people of God, a time when all of God’s promises seemed to have unravelled, as if God himself had been vanquished. Without this time of darkness, the light of the resurrection loses its context. We can’t grasp the glory of the resurrection without understanding something of the utter despair that preceded it, and that’s what this psalm takes us into.
It’s a psalm that laments a devastating defeat, perhaps the greatest of all the defeats in the Old Testament—when Babylon conquered the kingdom of Judah, destroying the temple, killing thousands, and carrying many into captivity. Israel had faced defeats before, but nothing like this. This was more than a defeat of the army. This was an end to the kingdom. God’s temple was destroyed and God was gone.
It is hard for us to imagine how devastating this was because it happened so long ago and seems so far removed. The psalmist seeks to capture it for us and as he does, he gives us a model for how to frame our own despair in prayer.