Psalm 6:3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord—how long? (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
How long? This was a common phrase in Bible times that expressed great weariness and lament. It would be like us today saying:
- Will this never end?
- How long do I have to keep going through this?
- I can’t take this anymore!
Ever felt that way? If you’ve been alive very long, I bet you have. If you haven’t felt this way, don’t worry… you will.
It seems to be a particularly intense feeling when the suffering is forced on us externally rather than being a consequence of our own action. In other words, it seems to be a little easier to handle getting fired from a job because you did poor work (your fault), than it is to be fired because someone lied about you (forced on you).
King David was in the midst of having a lot of injustice, unfairness and suffering forced on him (he brought a lot on himself as well!). In Psalms 6 we find a very intense crying out to God.
Psalm 6:1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. (NKJV)
We can’t know exactly what David felt or thought when he wrote that verse, but I get the feeling that there is a sense where he realizes that God is his last hope… and if God is mad at him, he has nowhere else to turn. David doesn’t ask to be spared from God’s righteous judgment, but only that God will have mercy on Him and “take it easy” on him, as we might say today.
I kind of hear David saying “please don’t be mad at me God, but… I’M SICK OF THIS!” That sounds like a pretty disrespectful thing to say to God, but honestly, how many times have you felt that way, even if you never said it?
Psalm 6:2 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. (NKJV)
David is feeling the stress. Have you ever just felt totally drained, totally spent? Have you ever been so stressed, so emotionally burned out, so deeply worn out spiritually that your “bones are troubled”? Don’t ever think that God doesn’t understand. He has been caring for his creation since day one, and God has comforted countless people who felt like things couldn’t get any worse.
When I read this, I get the feeling David is saying, “I can’t take this anymore, Lord, please help”; or “I can’t do this on my own, God, please help”. David admits his own inability to deal with the situation, turns to God and asks for healing in heart, mind and spirit. How many times have you reached the same point? (the context makes it pretty obvious this was not about actual physical sickness, even though these verses are used to support modern teaching on “healing”)
Psalm 6:3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord—how long? (NKJV)
David is hurting. His soul is greatly troubled. He is hurting so bad that his “bones are troubled”. And he asks God, “How long are you going to let this go on? Why do I have to suffer this? Why don’t you stop it?” In the verses that follow (v. 4-7) David continues:
- Rescue me Lord!
- If you let me die, then I can’t worship you!
- My bed is soaked with sweat because of my suffering
- My couch is drenched in tears because I’m hurting so bad
- My eyes are swollen and red because I am so sad
- I can’t sleep because of how upset I am
Then, in typical fashion, David goes on to acknowledge God’s goodness, and his belief that God will hear him, and not fail him (v. 8-10):
- The Lord has heard my cry and will take care of me, so everyone who is mistreating me better go away
- The Lord listens to me, hears me and will not fail to consider my prayers to Him
- Let all those who persecute me be ashamed of themselves, and may trouble come upon them
These verses don’t imply revenge. They are based on God’s righteous punishment. It is never our place to wish for, or command God to punish someone for our own personal satisfaction. But in the same manner, it is not incorrect to implore God to act within His declared standard of holiness and deal with those who are violating God’s holiness.
It’s okay to be honest with God when you feel bad. It’s taken me a long time to learn that. I always considered it a weakness, lack of faith or immaturity to be honest with God when I felt lonely, hurting or mistreated. The whole idea of hiding true feelings from God is pretty laughable anyway, because obviously God knows our true feelings infinitely better than we do ourselves. So expressing your hurt to God does not inform HIM of anything, it only helps us to be honest with ourselves. However…. it should never stop there.
Expressing your feelings without acknowledging God’s care,
power and love is nothing more than indulging in a pity party.
God knows how you feel. He knows when you hurt. He knows when your are sick of certain situations. He knows when you are stressed out, run over, rung out and hung up to dry. He even knows when you feel like you wish your life was over (which doesn’t always imply suicidal tendencies; wishing life was over comes sometimes from extreme emotional weariness and does not have to assume that someone wishes to kill their self, only that they wish all the heartache would end). God knows all these things about us, and wants to be the Person with whom you can be honest.
But it should never stop there. While being honest WITH God, we need to be honest ABOUT God. Yes, you are hurting, but God cares deeply for you. Yes, you are stressed out to the max, but God is listening and hears you. Yes, you feel like “how long can this go on”, but God will respond in His timing, in His perfect way. You need to tell God that you understand those things about Him.
God knows that we need to be able, and free, to express our whole heart to Him. We have the built-in, God-given desire to be honest about how badly we are hurting sometimes. Then it needs to be followed with our responsibility to acknowledge Him despite our feelings.
We can feel free to be honest with God about our pain and feelings;
Then we need to honor God by acknowledging His nature.
What is God’s revealed nature? That He cares. He loves us. He will heal us, care for us and protect us. He will right all wrongs, and deal out perfect justice in His timing. He is perfect, and only allows us to suffer and endure those things that make us like Christ.
So if you are hurting today (or when the inevitable day comes), feel free to express your honest feelings and pain to God. And then turn right around and acknowledge what you know to be true about the God who loves you and will see you through your suffering.
Lord God, Help us to be honest and spill out our whole heart to You. Then help us to honor You by proclaiming Your Goodness and care for us. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Have you ever been hurting so bad that you just cried out to God “how long does this have to go on!”? Are you honest with God about how you really feel or, like me in the past, do you feel like you have to hide it for some reason? Or, are you one of those folks who have no problem complaining about your feelings to God, but never acknowledge God’s control over the situation?
Application: We can be honest with God about our true feelings, but it needs to be balance with our acknowledgment of His power and control over all matters. It’s absurd to try and “hide” your true feelings from God. And it’s wrong to be consumed in our troubles and not truly believe that God is in full control. God loves you. He can handle hearing about your hurts and feelings. Then, love God back by letting Him know that you trust Him, believe in Him and will obey Him.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?