Suffering God’s Way

General comments about this sermon series:

Written as model prayers for God’s people, by God’s people under control of H.S.

These prayer instructions presuppose God’s Spirit being involved.

They teach attitude and heart as well as content and fact (emotion & reasoning)

Today:Psalms of Lament…Why in God’s Word do we read of human suffering so much? Living in a fallen world, suffering is unavoidable. God’s Word addresses every aspect of this life. Psalms teach us how to commune with ‘The Lover of Our Souls’ in the midst of anguish, doubt and despair. They give us a road map / guide for the healthy dealing with loss and pain, in God’s presence, by His Spirit.

The prayer instruction in Psalms regarding suffering has 3 key elements we are to imitate.

#1. The healthy expression of emotion in response to the troubles of this life, intense vulnerability before God. Our perfect example is Christ on the cross.

#2. Using our reasoning capabilities we assent to God’s will and trust in the relationship HE has established. Again we look to Christ as our Model.

#3. Yielding to God’s Spirit leading us to a balance between emotion and fact based reason that results in glorifying God.

Emotion and Reason…The Head and The Heart…We truly glorify God when we relate to Him intimately with both! This can happene because we have two massive blessings that the original audience of these writings didn’t have: The Incarnate Christ; Jesus of Nazareth: Virgin Birth / Sinless Life / Sacrificial Death / Bodily Resurrection / Existing praying with us and for us eternally. The Comforter / God’s Indwelling Holy Spirit: All who surrender their life to the Lordship of Jesus The Christ are eternally and irrevocably united with God by Him LIVING INSIDE US! So let us be teachable before God’s Word and learn how to pray as God would have us, so He can lead us to a place where our emotions and reason work together to process and overcome suffering. To The Glory of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Psalm 42 (77 Biblical References in 11 verses)

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

  • Single-mindedly the deer pursues what it needs more than anything
  • We were created to be united in redeemed relationship with our creator
  • It is what we need more than anything else!
  • We were built for intimacy with the ‘Living God’ / Christ in resurrected Glory!

When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

  • He is expressing the idea that he needs to do something, initiate contact
  • The psalmist is being real about ‘feeling’ separated from Yahweh
  • The accuser says: ‘Where is your god?’ (Emotional manipulation is demonic)

4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

  • Now comes a moment of reflection on how it has been previously with God
  • While in this place of lament the writer recalls how his spiritual life used to be:
  • Confidently trusting in the God of Israel, worshiping freely in unity & security
  • We are starting to see the real suffering comes from the severed relationship

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. 6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. (‘Little Hill’)

  • This is the writers frontal cortex telling his limbic system: quite feeling and think
  • Yes we have doubts, yes we fail, yes we sin, yes we ‘feel’ apart from God
  • My experience of God’s presence doesn’t control the reality of God’s presence
  • We need to process the loss and the pain… we were made to do it WITH God
  • When God’s Spirit lives in us, our spirit is renewed and is being renewed
  • Because we have relinquished our lives to the God we trust, we can praise
  • In that place of suffering we can connect to ‘The Suffering Servant’
  • And the way followers of Christ deal with suffering is to connect in that pain

7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all Your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day The Lord directs his love, at night His song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

  • Here the writer surrenders to the reality of his place with God
  • He acknowledges the soul connection of a redeemed relationship with God
  • He acknowledges the reality of God’s love initiates

9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

  • The writer is being real about how he is misled by his feeling & the enemy
  • He recounts how it seems that God has somehow ‘forgotten him’
  • This is using your limbic system instead of your frontal cortex

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

  • As if the writer is coaching himself up: Holy Spirit speaking to flesh
  • It’s as if he tells his soul: ‘I am gonna praise God until you get out of that funk’
  • Hope comes from remembering Yahweh IS my savior & my God

God is there to help us with our suffering, but we have to treat Him as God and not as some person who has let us down: He is the solution, not the problem!

Psalm 13 (37 Biblical References in 6 verses)

How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide your face from me?

  • One of the most painful things is to not know when the pain will end
  • We can withstand a lot if we know when it is going to end
  • So we are to be honest with god about what we are experiencing
  • We can ask Him to change the experience (Enable me to see Your face)

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

  • Why can’t I overcome these thoughts I don’t want to think
  • This is in some ways describing what depression is like ‘sorrow in my heart’
  • People experiencing this are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy
  • Feeling defeated is different than being defeated…(emotional only response)

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

  • The writer looks to God and no one else as the solution
  • Without God showing up the writer knows he can’t stand up to the enemy

5 But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.

  • Our emotions and reason in balance together result in glorifying praise
  • Jesus said HIS followers would worship in ‘Spirit and In Truth’
  • This is how we were meant to relate to God with both our head and our heart.

Prayer Instruction From God’s Word:

Yahweh invites us to pray with urgency, desperation and hunger… brutal honesty When we feel apart from Christ we are to seek Him in absolute vulnerability.

As a response to suffering we are to pray expressing awe and surrender because we KNOW how God has worked, is working and will work in our lives.

People who do not know Christ will want you to join them in doubting His existence. It is ok to express how hard that is to endure that, but we must also act on what we know.

We may ‘feel’ forgotten by God, we may ‘feel’ as though He is ignoring us yet we must act /pray based on what we know about Yahweh.

Prayers of remembrance can help us overcome our doubt regarding God. Ask God (H.S.) to take you back to a moment when you had no doubt that you were HIS child.

We can pray with our reason that our emotions would not be manipulated by the enemy and that we would know what is true.

We are to ask God’s Spirit to enable our reason to overcome our emotions that lie to us and declare the reality of God in our life.

We are to believe and feel that God is the answer to our suffering, and through the suffering of Christ He will one day end all of His people’s suffering.

God wants us to pray with our head and our heart that He would be fully glorified.