How raw are your prayers to God? When life doesn’t go as planned—when the pregnancy test is negative, again, or when you’re financially stressed more than you’ve ever been before—how desperate are your prayers to God?
Often, as Christians, we’re good about running to the Lord in our pain. We pray emphatic “Help me, God” prayers in our moments of trouble. We’re desperate, and we know it. But when the pain remains, when our problems don’t go away and we’re left with prolonged chronic pain or disappointment, we begin to silence our prayers. We slowly shoulder the weight of our sorrows, thinking, I guess I’ve just got to carry this. God doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Or, I tried praying to God about it, and He didn’t fix it. I guess this is just my lot in life.
I love how the psalms demonstrate real and raw prayers to the Lord, not just once, but over and over again. They remind us that we, too, can go to God repeatedly for help because God is our refuge, and He hears us.
One example of this is in Psalm 43, a psalm of David. In this psalm, David cries out to the Lord, saying:
Vindicate me, God, and champion my cause
against an unfaithful nation;
rescue me from the deceitful and unjust person.
For you are the God of my refuge.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?
David is in trouble, again. That’s not an unusual position for him to be in. As we read throughout the Old Testament, David has a hard life. He is regularly belittled by others. He defeats wild animals in the pasture, faces danger in battle, and is even hunted to be killed by those closest to him. As he said in Psalm 43, he is sorrowful and has enemies oppressing him.
Understandably, David felt rejected throughout his life. But where did David go with his feelings of rejection and sadness? And where should we go on the days when we don’t want to get out of bed, when we can’t explain why we’re just so sad? Maybe there’s a reason for your particular sorrow—your child has been particularly difficult or mean to you this week. You’re panged with longing for companionship—wanting to find satisfaction in the Lord but wondering how long you must wait for a spouse. You’ve recently gone through a difficult breakup or been through a ton of stress at work. You feel rejected and defeated. Or maybe it’s a combination of a million smaller stresses, no single one enough to break you but, together, enough to crush you.
David understood those emotions, and in his darkness, he went to God. He goes on in Psalm 43:
Send your light and your truth; let them lead me.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.
Then I will come to the altar of God,
to God, my greatest joy.
I will praise you with the lyre,
God, my God.
When David needed help, He cried out to the Lord. How beautiful! When David’s world was dark, he cried out for the light of God. And notably, David didn’t just do this once. He cried out to the Lord, again and again throughout the psalms. He asked for God’s truth to guide him and bring him back to a place of worship. He knew that God was his greatest joy, and he longed to praise the Lord. He placed his trust in the protection and provision of the Lord, and we can too.
As we keep reading in the psalm, David concludes:
Why, my soul, are you so dejected?
Why are you in such turmoil?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him,
my Savior and my God.
In seasons of darkness, David talked to himself. He didn’t let his emotions dictate his reality, but he called his soul to place its hope in the Lord. David was resolutely committed to praising God, even when the world was against him, and he placed his hope in God alone.
You may not have enemies trying to kill you, but maybe you can still relate with David’s words. Throughout this difficult season, you feel dejected and in turmoil. As a reflection of this psalm, spend some time and consider: How can you talk to your soul in this season? How can you spur your soul on to trust God even through seasons of sorrow?
Psalm 43 reminds us that even when the circumstances don’t change, we can find hope in God. We can cry out to the Lord for His light every time we feel the darkness pressing in. We can preach hope to our souls. Though we may feel weary and alone, we can run to Lord over and over again because He is our truth and our light.
As Psalm 43 reminds us, God is our refuge (verse 2). He will lead us to His holy mountain, to His dwelling place (verse 3). He always hears, always protects, and always loves. We can repeatedly bring all our sorrows to Him.