They do not cry to me from their hearts; rather, they wail on their beds. They slash themselves for grain and new wine; they turn away from me -- Hosea 7:14
One child takes a toy from the other. I hear the stomp, stomp, stomp of feet across the floor. A door slams, and then, silence. Another sibling conflict is in the works. As I go to my daughter's room to assess the damage, I hear masked sobs as she presses her face into the pillow. "It's not fair. I never get to play with that," she cries quietly to herself. "She always does whatever she wants," my daughter murmurs to no one in particular.
I go to my daughter's bedside and try to understand what happened, and through tears, she tells me all about it. I get the play-by-play of wrongs committed and enter into her pain in order to comfort her. We cry, talk, plan, and hug, and when the time is right, I encourage her to keep sharing. This time, not with me, but with God. I remind her that God wants to hear all about it too, and that He's there to help her. He saw what happened, and He wants to enter into her pain and comfort her. He can do an even better job of that than me.
But as I watch her struggle to convert these difficult emotions into prayers, I, too, feel convicted. How often do I cry on my bed but forget to cry out to the Lord? Like the Israelites in Hosea 7, I can get so caught up in my emotions that they become my reality, and I neglect to go to the One who can give me peace. I rehearse and replay my mistakes like a stuck cassette but don't bring them to the Lord.
If we're honest, don't we all do this? We brood over lost arguments until we can think of the perfect comeback, that witty remark we should have said. We replay the sins of another over and over again until we feel justified in our anger. But we stop there. Perhaps in time, we forget about the wrong. Or maybe we hold it close to our chests, dwelling on it regularly and letting it settle in deeper. But either way, we forget to tell the Lord all about it. We neglect to invite Him into our pain and brokenness. Maybe we're afraid that God will judge us for our anger or that He'll hold it against us. Maybe we know we weren't perfect in the conversation or that it's wrong to be bitter, so we hide our hearts from Him. Or maybe, we're just sad and in pain, and we don't think God can help. So we cry on our beds, but we don't cry out to the Lord. In our anger, depression, or anxiety, we look for peace and comfort apart from God.
In the Bible, the writers display remarkable transparency before God. Many psalms are filled with raw, raging emotion against the brokenness of the world. Consider a few of the phrases found in one psalm alone (Psalm 44). The sons of Korah start the Psalm by recounting God's deliverance, and then they quickly change their tune.They feel abandoned and rejected by God, and they tell the Lord how they feel. They complain to Him, saying:
- "You sell your people for nothing; you make no profit from selling them" (Psalm 44:12).
- "You make us an object of reproach to our neighbors, a source of mockery and ridicule to those around us. You make us a joke among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples" (Psalm 44:13-14).
- "Wake up, Lord! Why are you sleeping? Get up! Don't reject us forever!" (Psalm 44:23).
What raw honesty. Can you believe these comments are in God's inspired Word? And, lest you think this is a one-time occurrence, check out other psalms, such as Psalm 13, 60, and 88.
Jesus also modeled praying through pain when He cried out to God in Gethsemane. He cried to His Father, asking for His cup of suffering to be removed. He ached, grieved, and mourned. He truly knows what we're going through. He understands feeling rejected, betrayed, and alone. He knows what it means to be hungry, tired, and to have His desires withheld. He's felt the ache and brokenness of the world. He is with us in it and one day will fix it all. This world hurts. People will betray and wrong us. But God sees it all, and He wants you to talk to Him about it.
Even on hard days, we are not powerless. We have an intimate connection with God Most High. We can cry out to the Maker of heaven and earth, the One who has the power to change things. And as we do, we know that God is with us in our tears. He wants to comfort and strengthen us. He is our only hope for lasting peace.
When the tears come, and we feel the brokenness of this world, we can rest on Him. We can be real and honest, sharing all our emotions with Him in prayer. And while He may not immediately fix the situation, He can offer comfort, peace, perspective, perseverance, and joy, even in the midst of our suffering.
On your hard days, do you press into the Lord or away from Him? Do you only cry on your bed, or do you also cry out to the Lord (Hosea 7:14)? He wants to comfort you in your tears today. So the next time you find yourself crying or raging against the brokenness of life, invite Him in. Tell Him all about it. Through your tears, you will find a loving Father who empathizes, cares, loves, and comforts you in your pain.