On the Other Side of Pain
Posted in Suffering/Healing
Scripture: “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, or discipline me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror. My soul also is struck with terror, while You, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of Your steadfast love…. I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping…. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.” – Psalm 6: 1-4, 6, 9-10
This Psalm is a Psalm of lament, and it can also be called a Psalm of sickness. It is attributed to David. The words and emotions that struck me were in verses 6-7. The Psalmist is overwhelmed with sorrow and grief and feeling the nearness of death. Have you ever been so filled with sorrow and grief and pain that your tears flood your bed or drench your couch? You can’t move from the overwhelming distress, and you can’t stop the tears due to the anguish. The pain being felt is beyond thought or imagination, and all you can do is moan.
The Psalm begins with a plea to God not to rebuke or discipline the one who is ill. Often in Old Testament times, sickness was affiliated with sin; although, this isn’t specific in this Psalm, as the Psalmist doesn’t confess sin but calls for God’s grace to be extended to him. One of the questions scholars ask is, “Does the Psalmist feel that God would be angry with him for bringing his complaint to God?” God isn’t angry with us when we bring our emotions and distress to him. God desires us to share what is on our hearts and minds with him. We are to come to God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. The Psalmist grows weak because of his illness and grief. He moans with pain, he weeps great tears, and loses sight because of the nearness of death, his grief, and the enemies that surround him.
Yet, in all of the pain he is in, the Psalmist remembers how God has met him in the past. The Lord heard his weeping, heard his supplication, and accepted his prayers. David has seen lots of trouble in his life. In David’s lifetime, he has experienced the committing of great sin, the joy of repentance, death of a child, rebellion of his children, and people who have hunted him down to kill him. David has been in the place that many of us have been. In those places, we can have a hard time feeling the presence of God. We may feel alone and forsaken, and not believe there is joy on the other side of the pain.
In his pain, David remembers that God loves him with a steadfast love. That hesed love, which never leaves us and always protects and provides for us, is the love that David remembers. The circumstances of life might not be different, but David realizes that God was with him and would vindicate him from all the distress that he has experienced.
David has found life in God even though he felt he was literally dying. David shows us that we are to bring our anguish and distress to God who loves us with steadfast love, grace, and deliverance through salvation. In coming to God, we once again find life, even if it is by crawling from the pit. We can also know that God has come to be with us in the pit and walk with us to a new place of relationship and love that is filled with hope.
Prayer: Dear God, help each one of us bring our heart’s distress to you, so that we may experience your grace and love beyond the distress that we are experiencing. Thank you for helping us to remember the places that you have extended your love to us in the past, and that you will do that in the present and in the future. Give us eyes to see you in each and every circumstance of our lives. We pray in the marvelous and matchless name of Jesus Christ, our loving Lord. Amen.
Submitted by Rev. Dr. Lynn Grandsire