Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Month: June 2012

Prayer & Pain

Included in Solomon’s remarkable prayer at the time of the Temple’s dedication are these lines:

“… whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind …” (2 Chron. 6:29-30)

Only God and the individual truly know the ache and agony within his/her heart. Indeed, Solomon would also come to say: “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” (Prov. 14:10)

The question, “What is your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?” is really meaningless, for there exists no external, standardized measure of the sensation of pain. So when one labels their pain at “1” or “10” (or anywhere in between) there is no way for another to know what that pain truly feels like to that individual. The best an answer can do is tell you how you personally feel at the moment in relationship to the pain you have experienced in the past or can imagine experiencing in the future.

This makes prayer unspeakably precious, for prayer is the only place one’s heart can be truly known. Only in prayer can I truly share my heart and know that I am understood. Others, however understanding they may be, cannot fully appreciate the ache and agony of my heart. Only God knows. And ultimately He knows my heart even better than I do (“God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:20). In prayer God invites me to share my heart with Him and also to be ready to hear His understanding of my heart. Just Him and me, knowing and sharing the realities of my heart, this is the personal nature of prayer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for knowing and understanding my unique circumstances and the pain that fills my heart. You know. And I know you know. I want more than this, but I am able to rest in this. Thank you. Amen

Hurry up, Lord!

In Psalm 69 David is in trouble.

We can identify.

  • “… the waters have come up to my neck” (v.1)
  • “I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold” (v.2a)
  • “… the flood sweeps over me” (v.2b)

And where is God? “My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” (v.3b)

As the prayer continues, David cries out three times: “Answer me”! (vv.13, 16, 17).

Nothing new here. We’ve all do it. We’ve all done it many times. And we should.

What is interesting to me is the juxtaposition of the time elements David links to his cry. Look at them this way …

At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness … make haste to answer me” (vv.13b, 17b)

Out of his obvious distress, David calls upon God to save him. On the one hand he asks God to save him (“answer me”) “At an acceptable time,” yet he very quickly repeats the request (“answer me”) telling Him to “make haste.”

Translation: “God, answer me, whenever it might be in your will, but let it be today!”

In the trauma of distress I often do my best to bow to the Lord’s timing, but at the same time feel I must hear from Him immediately. The pendulum ride from patience to panic is frequent and swift. In this I am not alone, for David knew it as well. And so we, with him, sometimes pray: “At an acceptable time … make haste”

Heavenly Father, I too, like David, live in the midst of real circumstances. Often I conclude things are critical before you join me in that evaluation. Give me steadfastness and patience in waiting on you. But please, O God, do act upon your promises and on my behalf. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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