(By Rachel Joyce)
When life is going smoothly, sometimes we forget to show compassion for those in difficult circumstances. It can be hard to imagine the hopelessness others battle and the agony they endure. When tragedy strikes, it can shake up our whole tidy world until it’s hardly recognizable anymore. This was the psalmist David’s experience. Once loved by King Saul, now David found himself being hunted like prey by the jealous king. Psalm 142 records David’s prayer as he was hiding in the cave:
I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low” (Ps 142:1-3, 5-6).
David cried out to the Lord. The English word hardly begins to express the depths indicated by the Hebrew word in the original version of this text: זָעַק zaw-ak’ is a primitive root which means to shriek from anguish or danger, to cry out in need (Strong’s Concordance, Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions). The “complaints” are not expressions of discontent or faultfinding, but rather meditations of his inner conditions (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). In seeking to deal with his inner anguish, David poured it all out before his God. He reaffirmed his faith in God’s wisdom (you alone know the way I should turn) and he cried to God to respond because God was his only hope and the desire of his heart.
I’m so thankful God gave us David’s prayers and psalms of praise. Through them we learn how to pray and how to relate to God in the midst of our suffering. When we read them we discover that God is bigger than our situation and He values our honesty. He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him and find our refuge in Him alone. He wants us to discover, that He is a sure refuge for us when we are “very low.” He will not abandon us or reject us when our feelings threaten to overwhelm us. No. He is a safe refuge. In His arms, we discover we are loved deeply and unconditionally. He is for us and will help us through whatever difficulty we face. He will never abandon or forsake us. We can trust in Him.
And if we are finding life easy right now, may we never forget that there may be others around us who are hurting and need us to draw alongside them, to listen, to share God's love, and to strengthen them in the Lord.