When Life Just Hurts
One of my greatest privileges as a pastor is to sit with people and listen to their stories. And what happens is that I’m often invited into a story about pain, loneliness, and suffering. Sometimes life just hurts—a lot! Many in our church are struggling. They are coping with issues like the loss of a loved one, substance addiction, pornography, loss of someone through suicide, loss of a job, a ruined marriage, a wayward child, demonic oppression, depression, or chronic pain. I’m always humbled and honored when people trust me enough to share their pain and sorrow in such personal ways.
Jesus entered into people’s pain on a regular basis. He loved people. We are likewise called to love people and be willing to enter into their suffering. This is one of the reasons that the Psalms have always been a prayer book of the church. The prayers of the Psalms are for all kinds of situations; they are prayers that are real, raw, and realistic. I especially like reading the Psalms in The Message translation. Eugene Peterson, who is a scholar and a poet, did an unusually good job of capturing the subtle textures of the Psalms as he translated them.
Old Testament scholar, Walter Bruggemann, says there are three types of Psalms:
- Psalms of Orientation (like Psalm 1): These Psalms tell us how to walk with God and the blessings that follow. These kinds of Psalms are cause and effect.
- Psalms of Disorientation (like Psalm 22): These Psalms express the dark night of the soul, when life is currently falling apart.
- Psalms of Re-orientation (like Psalm 62): These Psalms help us find our way out of the swamp after God has afflicted us.
I’ve found that, even when my emotions will not adjust right away (sometimes it takes days or weeks or months), I must cling to what I know is true. I must go back to my rock and rejoice in God and His promises. This is what David did, it’s what Habakkuk did, and it’s what Jesus did! So if life is hurting right now, I would encourage you to run to the Psalms. Dwell in them—camp in them! God’s love and light will eventually break through; He promises this for genuine believers. Read and re-read God’s promises to you. If you are not yet a true follower of Jesus, repent and believe, and then the Psalms will contain true promises for you.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor