Praying When Life is Unbearable
Psalm 42:3 "My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,“Where is your God?”
I don't know whether you can relate to eating tears. Truthfully, I hope if you are reading this that you are not currently experiencing something so difficult. Psalm 42 moves me deeply as I see both how hard life must be for the writer, and thus how deep the trust must be between the writer and God. If I am eating tears, I am probably more prone to question God's goodness than to talk to Him. If my "soul is downcast", I am more likely to sulk and eat ice cream than to "put my hope in God."
Let's be real, no matter your disposition or position in life, life can often unbearable--whether it is because of personal suffering or inability to address the suffering of others. In these times, going to God feels pointless. Instead, we learn to numb our pain with food, drugs, or blaming others--but the pain only is temporarily alleviated.
But what about the way we "should" cope as believers? Though the Christian story of exile and restoration, fall and redemption ought give us plenty of optimism. The pain of this life is very real. It is so real, our grief can lead to enough tears for a 24-hour meal. Despite the good news in our story, Scripture, and even our Savior bear witness that intense grief in this life are normal even with our great hope. The question then becomes, will we go to God in our pain or go to another source? This is when our faith in God is most tried, when we are in unbearable pain. Yet this is also one of the clearest evidences of our faith, that we go to God in our terrible moments.
More importantly to us, this is where our faith is most satisfying. It is when all things are crumbling around us and we find as children of God, in Jesus, that even when all is else feels lost, we have One that will never be lost to us. He will sustain us though the world fall to pieces. In these moments, we find God most deeply because He proves Himself most wonderfully. That does not mean in grief we must immediately move to praise--it is ok to lament and speak to God about all of our pain. Praise will come to the one who learns to lament before and with God. In fact acknowledging sorrow is what we would do in any healthy, intimate relationship. So let's go to Him in our unbearable pain and find that He is truly all that we need.