A Prayer for Suffering
By Ashley Moore
“But then I recall all you have done O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.” - Psalm 77:11, NLT
Many are reluctant to cry out to God when suffering for fear their complaints would offend Him. And rightly so! Remember in Exodus when the Lord burned with anger at the Israelites for grumbling? But there is a significant difference between complaining about God versus complaining to God.
In Psalm 77, the psalmist lamented, meaning he cried out to God about a loss he was experiencing. The NLT version says he even shouted to God about the difficulty of his circumstances. Questioning if God had abandoned him, the Psalmist couldn’t sleep. He was in deep trouble. And he was so distressed the text says he couldn’t even pray (Psalm 77:1-7).
Have you ever been in a situation like this before? Maybe your struggle feels insignificant, like a relational tension. Or perhaps, you've suffered an unexpected tragedy. Whatever the case, as humans with limited understanding, we struggle to understand why God allows suffering into our lives. In our darkest moments, we wonder if questioning God is sinful.
Does He get tired of hearing me vent? Does God care about my problems, or does He hear my cries as nagging complaints?
But think about the character and nature of God from scripture. He is a relational God, inviting us to be part of a family (2 Corinthians 6:18). He desires that we talk with Him about everything, especially the things that break our hearts (1 Peter 5:7). He longs to comfort us through His Holy Spirit (John 14:16). He is also an all-knowing God, meaning nothing we experience, feel, or think about is hidden from Him (Psalm 139). Not only does He know everything about us, but He understands His creation's complete dependency and frailty and loves us despite us (Jeremiah 31:3).
God longs for us to lament the hardships we face to Him. When we courageously share the burdens of our lives with our all-powerful God, He does something wonderful. He reminds us of the good news of Christ! We remember Jesus suffered too. And because He took all the penalty of our sin onto Himself, we can trust the day is approaching when we will be restored to perfection with our Heavenly Father just as He was. However, like Christ, while on earth, we will endure suffering and trials of many kinds (1 Peter 5:10). We will never stop needing this reminder and the good news of Christ, especially on the hard days.
We draw closer to God when we humble ourselves by bringing our laments before Him. This shifts our focus from our circumstances to our good God. When we experience the presence of God by reading His Word or in prayer, we are flooded with recollections of all the amazing things He has done. Remembering His faithfulness causes us to overflow with praise. And God hardwired us to experience deep pleasure and joy when we praise Him. So even in the middle of hardship, we can still rejoice.
God desires we bring our complaints to Him because we can’t praise or experience joy if we bypass the process of lamenting our suffering. We don't have to be afraid of offending God because lamenting is not complaining about God but rather complaining to Him. We can cry out to God about our trials. And allow Him to turn the pain into praise so we can experience joy that transcends our troubles.
I thank you for who you are and who I am in light of that. God, you are faithful, slow to anger, and abounding in love for me (Psalm 103:8). Thank you that you can handle every big emotion I experience. Thank you for inviting me to place all my disappointments onto your strong shoulders.
Lord, forgive me when I wrongly believe that you are bothered by my problems or I fear that you will become angry about my complaints and grief. God help me courageously bring these things before you. Help me recall all the wonderful things you’ve done, including the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Thank you for helping me put my problems into perspective.
God, help me surrender to the process of lamenting so I can experience joy and peace that surpasses my understanding. You are a good God! Thank you that you bend down to hear my prayers even now (Psalm 116:2).
In your name, I pray, amen.
Photo credit: ©SalemDesign/BethanyPyle
Ashley Moore is a writer and host of be the two™podcast. She is known for her relatability and for passionately writing and speaking about mental, emotional, and relational health from a biblical worldview. She has written for Kingdom Edge Magazine, Guideposts, Crosswalk, The Secret Place, enLIVEn, The Bubbling Brook and more. If Ashley isn't writing, you can find her with her husband, three children, and two floppy-eared Goldens on their south Georgia farmland. The best way to connect with Ashley is to grab a free devotional or Bible study and join her newsletter at free.ashleynicolemoore.com.
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