Yesterday I posted a sermon in which I argued that the only way to live with real hope and power in this current age was to keep in mind the promise of God’s new creation because only then will we be fully healed. Specifically, I argued that given the transitory nature of this life, our only real hope and remedy for the pain and heartaches of this world is to embrace our resurrection hope made possible by the blood of Christ shed for us. If you have not read the sermon, I encourage you to do so and to think it through.
Today I am posting some biblical resources that can help us in our suffering and sickness. In the sermon I stressed that while God desires all to be healed (as do we), at the same time we must acknowledge that God does not answer all our prayers for healing and that remains an enigma and mystery we must live with. But because God does not always answer our prayers for healing does not mean God is absent or does not love us. To the contrary, it is the consistent witness of both Scripture and the Church over time and culture that God can and does use our suffering to draw us closer to him to deepen our faith and dependence on his love and grace. These are not to be sneezed at.
In that spirit, below are some psalms that are perfect for the purpose of both crying out to God in our pain and fear and to ask God to draw us nearer to him so that we can find his love, strength, and comfort. In each of the psalms, substitute whatever is afflicting you for the mortal enemy to which the psalmist refers.
Make each of these psalms your ongoing prayer and return to them and other psalms of your choosing regularly. By God’s grace you will find that you are strengthened to meet the challenges at hand because God is stronger than anything that can afflict us.
To the leader: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. Of David. A Miktam, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, 3 when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
5 All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
7 so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
12 My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Praise and Assurance under Persecution
To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
2 I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me.Selah
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.
4 I lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.
6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they have fallen into it themselves.Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.
Assurance of God’s Protection
To the leader: with stringed instruments. Of David.
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
3 for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings.Selah
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
7 May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
8 So I will always sing praises to your name,
as I pay my vows day after day.
Song of Trust in God Alone
To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
3 How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you,
as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse.Selah
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
according to their work.
Comfort and Assurance in God’s Presence
A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
6 when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword,
they shall be prey for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.