Tell It How It is
Pray for someone whom you know to be suffering today.
Read Psalm 102
A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.
1 Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
3 For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
5 In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
9 For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea.
18 Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord.
23 In the course of my life he broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo a quick self check-in. How are you feeling today?
Many Christians have the odd idea that it is fine to recount how awful we used to feel but not OK to declare that at this very moment we are thoroughly fed up. We seem to believe that testimony is only permissible when we are back on good, respectable form. The example of the psalmists seems to suggest that this is a big mistake. In many places, these writers tell God and others (for psalms were public works) about their most desolate feelings right where they are. This particular afflicted person makes no attempt to dilute his physical (3), emotional (5), social (8) and spiritual (10) anguish. We must surely conclude that the genuine expression of deeply negative feelings is therefore not always wrong.
Two caveats. First, of course, this idea should not allow us carte blanche to rant and moan at will. There are proper places for sharing feelings; a key one is with our Maker himself. Secondly, there is a vital pattern in the “lamenting psalms.” Almost always, having rent his soul, the psalmist turns and acknowledges the eternal truth that God is good and in complete control. This balance of honest human experience and solid faith in God is one feature that shows the psalms to be so clearly the inspired work of the Holy Spirit himself.
Take a moment to write a psalm based on this template of sharing how you feel followed by an acknowledgment of faith.
Breathe deep, check that you are being completely honest with yourself, and then tell God exactly how you are feeling.