The Presence of God in the Midst of Tears
The Presence of God in the Midst of Sadness
Read: Psalm 22
Day One: Psalm 13
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Lewis understood firsthand the pain that is part of the human condition. Married later in life, he stood by his wife, Joy, as she struggled and finally succumbed to cancer. He writes about that learning experience in his works. Like Job he does not curse God. Instead he writes, “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not”. And he says this not in jealousy, but in understanding that suffering is a human condition which mankind is a part of.”
Lewis reminds the reader of the world into which we are born, a world marred by sin. And in his sorrow and tears he tells us that, “we must remember that the soul is but a hollow which God fills.” God welcomes our tears, our questions and our doubts as we suffer. He is our Suffering Savior who understands our pain.
Are you now suffering? Is the pain of a recent experience still like an open wound to you? Reach out to Trinity’s GraceCare ministers who can walk with you through your dark moments.
Lord, I know sensing Your presence in my suffering takes time. I pray the Holy Spirit would stir this growth in my heart, until I can again rejoice in You. Amen.
Day Two: Psalm 42 The Rhythm of Tears
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5
Spend some quiet time today in Psalm 42.
Mark off verses 1-3, 4, 5a, 5b, 6-7, 8, 9-11a and 11b with a pencil. Do you see the rhythm?
Isn’t this a lot like the tears we shed in this life? We’d love to just draw a line in the sand and make the hurt go away. We have our Savior. That’s enough. Stop crying. Move on.
With the psalmist, we see God as He is. We see us as we are. We cry out to God, thirsting for Him. We hear others say (or more often we say to ourselves), “God, where are you?”
In His Word and by His Holy Spirit, He gently reminds us of His steadfast love in the past, shouting praise under His protection. He encourages us, “trust Me, you’ll praise Me again.” And so the rhythm continues. We cry out. He comforts and sustains us with such patience and tenderness. He sustains us again and again.
Don’t be discouraged if your tears return. He will never leave you or forsake you. The day is coming when there will be no more tears, no more pain. You’ll be home with Him — forever!
Day Three: Psalm 6 For the Long Haul
Sometimes, those dark times in life go on and on. The pain we feel, the tears we shed are unending. It can feel like God has turned His back on you. Verse 4 pleads with God to turn, to stop and notice, to care. And yet, in the same breath we hear the truth of God’s unfailing love. His presence and power is good for the long haul because His love for us does not fail. Based on that truth the Psalmist is sure that God has heard his prayer, even if he hasn’t heard the answer yet.
Are you in that lone dark place? Don’t give up on God, keep praying.
Lord, I know Your love is unfailing, even if I don’t feel it. Touch me with Your grace so I can sense Your presence and rejoice in Your salvation. Amen
Do you have a friend in that dark place? Hold on to God for them and wrap them in God’s presence through your presence. Just be there. Their prayers may run dry, so be ever faithful in your prayers for them, remaining confident in God’s care and God’s power to bring resolution.
Day Four: Psalm 22 Suffering for Me
David takes us on quite a journey in this cry of the heart prayer. He’s calling quite honestly out of despair and isolation. The darkness feels lonely and “yet” (vs 3) his mind returns to times (vs 4&5) when God’s presence and answer to prayer were clear. These were times when the community he was a part of glowed with worship. But now (vs 6-8) he is scorned, cast aside, abandoned. With another “yet” (vs 9) he remembers the constancy of God and pleads that God’s presence would be closer than the trouble that surrounds him. Suffering is an emotional yo-yo.
David has spoken for me on many a dark night. I can be comforted with the presence of David’s words, but how much better to be comforted by the presence of David’s God. Especially when I see that it is not David beside me, but Jesus (vs.14-18).
That’s when I can celebrate the rest of my journey by the side of the true King (vs 28). God has heard the cries of the afflicted and sent a Savior. Suffering takes on a new meaning and becomes a sign of God’s grace.
As you thank Jesus for taking on suffering and surpassing it with salvation, trumping death with resurrection, consider your own suffering in a new light. How might God be working it into a sign of grace for another to see? How will you describe God (vs 22) to the people in your network?
Day Five: Psalm 116 Past Present Future
In this Psalm, we hear a memory. In the past tense, distress and anguish (vs 3) is remembered. It felt like being surrounded by death. Anxiety can become a very lonely place and feel like a slow death. When God takes our suffering and moves it into the past we are restored into community and we have a story to tell.
Not only has God delivered you from what felt like death, He suffered death to deliver your soul (vs 8) from eternal death. Now you can walk tall and tell your story.
Are you wondering how (vs 12) to do that? Lift a toast to God. Celebrate and name (vs 5,6) your Savior. Have you ever noticed we don’t toast when we’re alone? Lift the cup of salvation (vs 13) in the presence of others. Remember, the only reason you can do this is because Jesus drank down the entire cup of God’s judgment for you. He put your suffering into the past to give you a new sure future. Don’t wait another minute to tell that story. Praise the Lord (vs 19) with others present!
Lord, I cannot honor You with obedience alone. The way to bring glory to You is to rejoice in who You are and what You have done. Help me relish Your salvation until joy bubbles out for all to see. Amen
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