“When God’s people speak out of their pain, they often speak things that are not necessarily true about reality but are true of how they experience reality. The Psalms reveal that God wants to hear what his people feel, even when, maybe especially when, what we feel seems too difficult to share. This tells us much about who our God is.”- John Coe
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ “- 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)
In Chapter 5 (“The Prayer Book of the Soul”) of Where Prayer Becomes Real, John Coe talks about what happens as we pray through the Psalms. As we pray the Psalms, we experience the full range of tensions the psalmists felt. Thus, this range of tensions invites us to wrestle through the truth of ourselves. In honesty before God.
For example, what the apostle Paul viewed as a thorn in the flesh actually represented a gift from God. Because God ‘gifted’ Paul with struggles so he’d abide with Him and embrace humility. Therefore, if God removed our struggles, we’d no longer come to Him. But as we abide in God, we bear much fruit and know Him as our strength.
So, the apostle Paul needed to learn how to wrestle with God in prayer. Above all, the thorn helped make this possible. Hence, John explains:
“As we seek to be faithful, we, too, find ourselves wrestling with God. . . . While we often want the wrestling to just go away, the Lord has a gift in it for us, even if it is a gift we don’t want. The wrestling itself is important. Naming ways our hearts are not like the Lord is necessary for praying through his Word. This is why the Psalms only frustrate the person looking for a tidy description of God or the Christian life.”
Today’s question: When God’s people speak out of their pain, what Bible verses help them approach God honestly? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Apparent tensions in the Psalms”