In a season of terrible difficulty, while living in a city far from home, I remember wrestling with the Bible’s command to rejoice in the Lord always. At that time, the chronic pain had begun to appear, I had barely enough money to pay my bills, I was 13 hours from everyone I loved, and I had no prospects for the future. Any time I would try to pray, only tears would come.
Having a praise-filled attitude does not mean that we should never cry out to God in our suffering, or that we should stifle our worries, weeping, and doubts. Praying honestly to God and praising him in suffering are not mutually exclusive actions. This dual reality is scattered throughout Scripture. We need both!
Scripture is saturated with reasons to praise God in trouble. We’re going to focus on just one psalm—and 3 springboards for praise that David offers us in Psalm 40.
1. God Hears Us.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40 v 1)
God is not disinterested or aloof. He is our Father; he is near to us and has brought us near through his Son’s death in our place. So he is aware and engaged when his children speak to him.
Oh Lord, you have heard my cry! You have not turned your face away from me, but have heard me because I am favored in Jesus.
2. God Rescued Us from Death.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. (v 2)
God has delivered us from the destruction of our souls—an eternity in hell—and has raised us from death to life in Jesus Christ, our immoveable rock of salvation.
I know that you hear me because you rescued me from damnation! You saved me from the destruction of my soul, and you chose to make me a part of your family, claiming me as your own.
3. God Gives Us Joy and Peace.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (v 3)
The result of what God has done for us in Christ our Lord is cause for thanksgiving, joy, and peace. We always have a song to sing if we trust in the Lord.
Once I was callous to you, praising the world and all its fading treasures, but now you have given me a new heart and put a new song in my mouth that proclaims your praises.
Excerpted with permission from Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton (2017, The Good Book Company). Kristen blogs at www.kristenwetherell.com. Sarah blogs at www.setapart.net.