He is always present to hear. God Wants To Give Us So Much More Than A “Quick Fix”, Trusting And Praising God In The Midst Of Suffering. He teaches you how to be able to feel others’ heartaches. “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. If you could only pray for one thing every day for the next 30 days (in hopes that God would answer in the way you desire), what would it be?. This situation is unacceptable because it marginalizes suffering and those who suffer and because it ignores a great body of biblical material that was written to help people through difficult times. Yet when we look at the life of Job, David, Jesus and Paul, just to name a few, we see that they all experienced great suffering and persecution, which should make us want to understand it a lot better, especially when we consider how different the outcome of their lives might have been if they had not dealt with their suffering exactly as they did. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  While they may be overstating the case here, their warning should be heeded lest we descend into sub-Christian practice. Lest someone think that these psalms were a rarity, it is commonly noted that around sixty of the 150 biblical psalms are laments, making it the largest grouping of psalms by genre. Learned in public worship, these words from the Bible can be taken home so that a person can address God again when praying for oneself or someone else. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic and Nottingham: IVP, 2008), 388–9, 391. (See Romans 8:29.) But this wasn’t true in the Garden, and it isn’t true now.  Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 52. No matter that suffering was God’s punishment for personal sin or the result of someone else’s sin, the psalmists acknowledged that life can be extremely difficult and that it is right for a believer to bring their pain, confusion, and frustration to God. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. You question, “Are you really listening, God?” That’s ok, friend. You are probably asking the deepest of questions right now. Psalm 119:152-154 He asks us to praise Him for our benefit. God begins the supernatural work of transforming you, His child, into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who was and is perfect. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; cf. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God." God has given us everything we need in Christ Jesus. The sheer freedom of murmuring against God, Paul says in Philippians 2:14–15, is a light shining in a dark place. According to Paul, the apostles faced pressures that were so far beyond their ability to cope that they despaired of life (2 Cor 1:8; cf. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. They begin to question God and even become mad at Him. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 4:879. In this they contrast greatly from laments found in the historical books of the Bible that expressly state the circumstances in which they were uttered (e.g., Josh 7:7–9; Judg 21:3). Psalm 119:107 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. All this will enable you, in a special way, to be able to minister to others. Amen. Moreover they show that the experience of anguish and puzzlement in the life of faith is not a sign of deficient faith, something to be outgrown or put behind one, but rather is intrinsic to the very nature of faith.. You may not have the song to sing, or even the voice to sing. Could it be that God doesn’t care about his plight? 1 Peter 2:19-21 Amen. Suffering can position our lives to bring more glory to God.  Roland Murphy, “The Psalms and Worship,” Ex Auditu 8 (1992): 25. . Monday, November 20th, 2006 at 11:39 pm in Seeds Of Faith. don’t tell me that! . For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.  Moberly states, Such predominance of laments at the very heart of Israel’s prayers means that the problems that give rise to lament are not something marginal or unusual but rather are central to the life of faith…. 10 Prayers of Praise to God. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. When trouble and grief continue without end, it is imperative that one confesses his feelings of abandonment and unease to God and then expresses his trust that, despite his circumstances or feelings, God will surely intervene (Ps 13:5–6). Services of lament are particularly needful when it becomes impossible to take part in a service of praise that contradicts personal and corporate feelings and experience. Romans 5:3-5 ESV / 293 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (emphasis mine). Believers must also respond to suffering by rejoicing in it. Romans 8:17-18 The use of lament in worship need not be reserved for exceptional times of tragedy. As he hung on the cross Jesus cried out to the Father, not with praise, but with words drawn from one of the lament psalms: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”. Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?” (Ps 74:1). And whether trouble comes from without or within, lament, as a God-given resource, empowers us to present our needs to God and ask him to resolve our difficulties and bring us back to praise. Long ago the Jewish Rabbis warned that the Psalms were only for spiritual healing and that those who used them for physical healing were guilty of sorcery and should be considered heretics. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. The same thing happens when the psalmist asks “How long?” The difference is that this question “implies distress of some duration.” The difficulties keep going on and on. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. At its most basic, worship—as it is developed in the Bible—consists of bowing down before God in submission to his will, fearing him for his majesty and power, and serving him in our daily lives whether by specific acts of worship or by simply doing that which pleases God. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. This is true whether the difficulty is the result of a natural disaster, traumatic experience, or chronic illness. 1 Peter 3:17 Worship is not merely a matter of singing from a joyful heart about the wonders of who God is and the marvelous things he has done. Walter McConnell directs OMF International’s Mission Research Department. God will fight for you, when you place your full trust in him. 3. Though chosen by God, Abraham and Sarah lived a nomadic existence and felt the pain and shame of not being able to bear a son until old age. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Not only do they provide the suffering with words to express their feelings and fears to God in faith, they also point them to the hope that God will hear their prayer, intervene for them, and give them reason to praise his name again. Show up in the presence of God. When we don’t murmur in our lives when hard things come, we are like lights shining. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Acts 5:41 . It can help us come to a new perspective about sin and the hope we have that Christ has sufficiently dealt with it on the cross. I don’t want any more suffering! Praise God in Suffering. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. See Broyles, “Lament,” 386–87. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD" (Psalm 134:1-2). If I am honest with myself, it is much harder for me to thank and praise God when I … As used in the Bible, a lament can be an action associated with mourning (such as wearing sackcloth or beating one’s breast) or a poetic or musical composition (e.g., a dirge) that would be recited or sung during a period of mourning. God hears our prayers, cares about our situation, and will come to our aid. SESSION 11: Praise: Releasing Faith. When Christ’s disciples asked whose sin lay behind a man born blind, Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” (John 9:3). When you stop worrying and trying to fix it all on your own, you allow the space for God to step in. 1. But God always offers us himself. Many of the writing prophets were caught up in the sin of their people to the extent that they were carried off into exile, or, in the case of Jeremiah, to Egypt. You restored me to health and let me live. I pray for your strength as I face suffering. Give the glory to God and praise his power and faithfulness. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. While some may simply mouth the words and fail to experience any change, the prayers are designed to lead us from despair to joy as we acknowledge that in spite of our sins, God forgives us and assures us that we receive pardon through Jesus Christ. And when you consider the abuse that God receives from human beings every day, creating human beings looks like a bad deal for God. Ps 31:5). I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Philippians 1:27-30 The place of lament in the Psalter indicates that God is interested in pain as much as he is in joy. One reason he does this is so that we can comfort others who are in affliction with the comfort by which we were comforted by God. Indeed, the “man of sorrows” (Isa 53:3) faced rejection throughout his earthly ministry and ultimately suffered the cruelest of deaths after his agonizing vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane during which he informed his closest disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:34). Laments are therefore primarily intended to help people present their needs to God and ask him to resolve their difficulties and bring them back to praise. Praise. God’s perceived failure to help prompts them to ask the questions “Why?” and “How long?” “Why, O Lord, do you stand afar off? Their psalms of lament provide models of the right way to complain to God. Praise God in the storms, through the battles, and when life gets hard. Rather, they can know that they can trust God to accept their feelings even when they don’t know what to say. When trouble or disaster hits a large body of believers, the appropriate response is to bring a corporate lament to God whether during the main weekly service of a church or a special service. It is how we should approach God with honesty and hope that he will meet us in our pain, sympathize with us in our confusion, and enable us to praise him again.  Of these, Psalm 32 is usually categorized as a psalm of thanksgiving rather than a psalm of lament. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Even so, their lack of specificity greatly helps those who use the psalms as they can be adopted to suit many different circumstances. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? Job 36:15-16 Suffering results in praise and glory. Lament is rarely given a substantial place in the church, as worship is usually equated with joy and celebration. He will also punish the wicked—all those who reject Him—and save the humble. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. When the group has worked through the time of trouble by bringing it to the Lord of all mercy and receiving his answers, it becomes possible for them to return to God with words of praise. Psalms that can be prayed for the sick include Psalms 20; 38; and 41. By becoming man, the Creator faced obscurity, the Almighty experienced rejection and ridicule, the Righteous One endured temptation without giving in to sin, and the eternal Lord died for the sins of others.  Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 53. God can use suffering to display his work in you. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 Suffering can: turn you away from a dangerous path of sin that you would have headed down otherwise, remind you that your strength lies in the fact that God meets you … Though you may have read the psalms in the midst of other trials in the past, perhaps it’s time for a fresh look at how they can serve as a source of hope and comfort for illness. But God’s word is not chained. Thank you Lord for speaking through LGG to me this morning!!! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. The psalms of lament—particularly the communal laments—also benefit worshippers by showing them that the psalmists could feel that God was absent. Even while hiding from a very near danger, David proclaims praise to God. Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. Raising a lament to God does not free a person entering the early stages of Alzheimer’s from facing a future of fear and forgetfulness. How can we worship God in and through our suffering? This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. Use of money remained pretty much the same. A woman who cries, “How long, O Lord?” as she agonizes over an abusive relationship may not be instantly freed from her assailant. Studies remained pretty much the same. This article is adapted from a chapter in his forthcoming book, An Introduction to Biblical Worship. Jesus, You are the Lord of my life, and I submit to You and will never deny You no matter what happens. Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000), 219–23. To help us find our way to worship God in the midst of suffering, loss, and disappointment, this paper addresses biblical teaching about the nature and use of lament, particularly in the psalms of lament. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; cf. As he saw it, this situation had a positive angle that forced them not to rely upon themselves but turn to the God who answered their prayers and the prayers of the churches they founded. By praying these psalms we are directed to identify the source of pain and to look beyond it as God leads us through our trials and heartaches and restores our ability to praise. It thus provides models and materials to be used by those who grieve or otherwise experience trouble. How long will you hide your face from me? For the last three years, I didn’t have enough sleep and rest everyday. If you ask most people, they will tell you it is easy for them to thank God when things are going well, but it’s not so easy to praise God when life throws them a curveball. Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today, 3rd ed. Four Ways To Pray In Suffering . So, no, God doesn’t ask us to praise Him for His own benefit. Turn your eyes to him and allow him to surround you with his love and strength. If you are brokenhearted today, you have great reason to praise God. Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. Is he impotent to deal with the problem? Copyright © 2005-2021 Faith And Marriage Ministries. This should give us hope to approach him for help during a time of difficulty. We all face suffering in some way, shape or form. Reaching beyond the individual, when a church, a nation, or the world is facing a crisis of some sort, services of lament are in order. As Brueggemann has pointed out, in the modern church “we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity.” This may be because we have been inordinately influenced by a success driven and forward looking culture that thinks all negatives can and should be overcome. Enemies (whether military or political) threaten (Pss 13:2; 22:6–8, 12–13, 16–18, 20–21; 44:10–16), rulers abuse their authority (Ps 58:1–2), illness weakens, and death seems imminent (Pss 38; 41; 88). The Bible offers much guidance in lifting prayers of praise to God. I pray that even during my suffering I will bare fruit for you. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. The most accessible biblical resource for those facing difficulties is the psalms of lament. I praise You Lord, for You are my strong tower, into Whose everlasting arm I flee for protection and safety, for You have pledged to uphold me with the right hand of Your righteousness. 10 Prayers of Praise to God. Nothing happens to us without first passing through God (Lamentations 3:37). So let’s spend some time together praying the Scriptures, offering the Lord a prayer of praise!. Instead of praying like that, many Christians fall for the enemy’s lies and come under condemnation and suffering. If you ask most people, they will tell you it is easy for them to thank God when things are going well, but it’s not so easy to praise God when life throws them a curveball. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! These questions show how difficult it is for many of us to come to God in worship in the midst of personal suffering. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. Such a psalm should be used in a case where sin is present but perhaps exchanged for another when sin is not an issue.  Shevuot 15b; Rambam, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 11:12. David experienced the sting of sin when his adultery with Bathsheba was uncovered and when the child she bore died despite his fervent prayers. Praise God even if you're currently going through hard times. Jesus, You are the Lord of my life, and I submit to You and will never deny You no matter what happens. You knew exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. Thank You for His wonderful example of learning obedience by the things that He suffered and for dying on the cross for the sins of the world, and for my sins too. Or is he punishing the lamenter for some reason? You don’t have to be surrounded by blessings to praise God. He holds this world together, He knows His own creation, and He knows every operation of every law He ordained. 1 Peter 5:8-11 When you read Psalms, you can find so many verses about God’s children singing praise even in the midst of hard times. My calling to ministry was also marked by trials. This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. Make the choice to fill your heart with words of praise and thanksgiving for God. Later in life he had other reasons for calling out to God due to personal attacks from his associates and family members.  R. W. L. Moberly, “Lament,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, Willem A. VanGemeren, ed. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me?  But as the form of biblical lament indicates, those in trouble need to be steered in the direction of hope. The aim of this paper is to broaden our understanding of the worship of God by providing a basic introduction to biblical lament and suggesting ways in which it can be used in the church. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. The Bible nowhere disguises the reality that life can be difficult. They thus become models to follow, guides that lead us from pain to praise, from fear to faith.  For an argument that distress is a dominant motif in the book of Psalms, see Philip S. Johnston, “The Psalms and Distress,” in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2005), 63–84. How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? Praise God! Modern Christians who are burdened by sin can similarly employ this ancient biblical pattern. How to Praise God When Life is Falling Apart. Approach the throne of grace every day. You may have sinned and as a result suffering the consequences, but God will nonetheless draw near to you to comfort you if you allow him. Pray – (1/2 minute) Read – (3 minutes) “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. Don’t murmur against God. He similarly informed them that, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). Psalm 22:24 The way the laments restore us to praise anchors them in communal worship, for it is only in the presence of others that one can rightly praise God. As you give yourself to God, he will help you through this hard time you are in now. Strangely, this sidelining of the hurting is similarly present in many modern funerals which have replaced ministry to the grieving and proclaiming the gospel message that death has been overcome in Jesus Christ with a simple recounting of what made the deceased special. It is our way of entreating him for mercy in times of difficulty. As the Old Testament saints remembered God’s past salvation while awaiting deliverance from their times of trouble, those who celebrate Christmas and Easter remember what God accomplished by sending Jesus as they await the second coming when Christ will fully establish his kingdom, judge the world of sin, and allow us to experience the resurrection life for ourselves. My calling to ministry was also marked by trials. You can find God in the hard times by choosing to trust and hope when we can’t see the way. Ps 22:1). Instead of praying like that, many Christians fall for the enemy’s lies and come under condemnation and suffering. Ps 22:1). In these times, the burden of offering such a sacrifice seems impossible—and I know I am not alone in this. Even so, our desire to experience the joy of Christ’s birth and resurrection should not deprive us of time to consider the wonder of the incarnation that brought on our Savior’s suffering. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 Far from being limited to singing songs of praise, worship takes hold of all of life as we live it out in humble service before God. Far from exhausting the biblical testimony about trouble and lamentation, they are supplemented by numerous New Testament accounts of broken people seeking Jesus for healing and of the apostles suffering for their testimony that Jesus was the Christ. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. In 42:11, his faith exhorts him to believe despite his bewilderment at God's silence during his suffering. 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