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September 20, 2017

Crying Out to God

A scary diagnosis. Losing a job. Not enough money. Sick kids. An accident…and the list goes on. We may not be stuck in desert wastelands or deep darkness, but it can sure feel like it at times. For the children of Israel, that hardship included captivity. Exile. Separation from their families. Living in a strange, godless land. This psalm tells the story of how God’s people wrestled with adversity and cried out to God in faith.

In the Word

Read Psalm 107

Some wandered in desert wastelands…some sat in darkness, in utter darkness…some became fools through their rebellious ways…Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. Psalm 107:4, 10, 17, 28

I love the Scriptures because they never sugarcoat problems in life. They tell it like it really is. Yes, we can have strong hope that God will somehow orchestrate even the most painful events in our lives and create something good from them, but the Bible never recommends minimizing our problems, excusing those who caused them, or denying they even exists.

On every page, we’re encouraged to look life squarely in the face and trust God’s wisdom, goodness, and greatness. Occasionally, he rescues us out of our difficulties, but more often, he gives us the strength to walk through them. The process of being faithful in the midst of the struggle is where we learn life’s most treasured lessons.

In Psalm 107, we find four groups of people who were in big trouble. Sometimes, their dilemma was self-inflicted by foolish and sinful choices, sometimes it seemed like an accident, and in one case, God himself caused the difficulty they faced. No matter the cause of the problem, each group of people had the same response: They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and each time, God answered their prayer. Which one of these groups can you relate to?

Faith enabled the Israelites to believe that God was available and attentive to their cry.

• Even when they couldn’t feel God’s presence.

• Even when they sinned.

• Even when they were confused.

• Even when they were angry.

• Even when they failed.

Again, they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They were desperate. They knew they needed God. And what did God do? (Hint: verses 6, 13, 19, 28)

Make it Real

When we encounter hard times in our lives, or much worse, when we are devastated by death, disease, or some other unexpected trauma, we naturally turn to God and ask, “Why?”
What have you been asking God why about lately? Think about it.

• “God, why _____________________________________________?”

• “God, why _____________________________________________?”

“Why” is not a bad question, and it’s not wrong for us to ask it. The problem is that we sometimes (maybe often) can’t figure out the cause. The second question we need to ask is, “What now?” No matter what the cause might be, we need to respond by clinging to God’s hand and trusting him for direction. Sometimes, like in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,1 the Lord rescues us out of our difficulties, but more often, he gives us the strength to walk through them. And when we are too weak to keep going, God himself carries us. Strangely, it’s often in the midst of life’s most difficult struggles that we grow closest to Jesus.

How do you usually respond to pain, heartache and disappointment? Do you ignore it? Fake it ‘til you make it? How do you cope?

What did the people in Psalm 107 do?

Desperation can drive us to do some pretty crazy things that only hurt us more. If you don’t cry out to God, you will cry out to something else. Being a woman of faith doesn’t mean detaching from or devaluing your heart. Rather than trying to push through and rely on your own strength, or just “cope,” why not invite the One who is “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” into your struggle?2 Desperation should always drive us to him!

Take a moment to read each one of these verses and think about how they apply to your life. Wherever you can do it, insert your name in the verses. Pray these passages over your heart.

• “Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” Psalm 130:1-2

• “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

• “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5

Heart to Heart

I’ll never forget that rainy, dreary night. Driving behind the ambulance, my dad inside. The doctor had told us that day that he wouldn’t live another two weeks. He was coming home from the hospital. To die. Ever felt betrayed by God? I did. It was one of the worst days of my life. With a sinking heart, I realized the irony. The next car I’ll be driving behind is a hearse.

As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I asked God a million questions. Why? How could you? We asked you to heal him... My heart felt just about as dark as the storm outside. I felt alone. Abandoned. Even angry.

But I am learning that our pain is often God’s classroom. Philip Yancey writes:
Gregory of Nicea once called St. Basil’s faith ‘ambidextrous’ because he welcomed pleasures with the right hand and afflictions with the left, convinced both would serve God’s design for him.3

Do we really believe that God can fulfill his purposes through our pain? If we truly want his purposes and not just our own comfort, we’ll turn to him in our darkest moments. Faith means becoming convinced, like Paul “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 4

God, I’m crying out to you because I don’t know what else to do. I’m tired of trying to be strong and figure out life on my own. Just like you did in the Bible, I beg you to deliver me. Help me. Grow my faith… 

1. See Daniel 3

2. Isaiah 53:3

3. Philip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000), p. 69.

4. Romans 8:38-39

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