When you ask someone how they are doing, what is their typical response? What about if someone asks you how you’re doing? Chances are the answer is the same for both – “I’m good”, “I’m blessed”, or “I can’t complain”. It is okay to answer that way when it is true, but what about when things aren’t good, when you don’t feel blessed and when you want to complain? It’s true that some people do not truly care how you feel, but there is one who does – God. But we often feel like we have to wear a mask with God, too.
It is good and proper to thank God for all His blessings and our salvation. But it is also proper to admit to God when we are struggling and when He feels far away. The Psalms are a great place to see this modeled biblically, especially those written by David.
David was a man who was chosen by God (1 Samuel 16:11-13), a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and was an extremely successful military king (2 Samuel 8:1-14). But at the same time, he was an adulterer (2 Samuel 11:1-5), murderer (2 Samuel 11:14-21), was cursed by his own countrymen (2 Samuel 16:5-14) and was hunted by his own king (1 Samuel 19:1-24) and son (2 Samuel 15:1-12).
These hills and valleys of life caused David to constantly seek God honestly. When he went through the low valleys in his life, he did not put on a mask and approach God as though everything was great. We know this because dozens of his prayers are recorded in the book of Psalms. Although we can look at several examples, one of his most honest prayers is found in Psalm 38.
Psalm 38 is not long, only 22 verses – I would encourage you to read it now. Look at the powerful imagery – “there is no soundness in my flesh (Psalm 38:3)”, “my wounds stink and fester (Psalm 38:5)”, “the light of my eyes – it has gone from me (Psalm 38:10).” These verses are so vivid and paint a clear picture of how David really felt. He was not trying to sugarcoat anything with God.
He also says, “O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Psalm 38:9).” He knew that he could not hide his emotions from God, so he did not bother with hiding them and instead acknowledged that the all-knowing God already knew his sufferings. This also shows that even though David knew that God already knew his sufferings, he still went to God in prayer.
While David was very honest about his pain and suffering, he does not simply sit and cry in his pain, as hard as it was. In this Psalm, he shows us that his trust and hope was only in the Lord. Even though God might use men to spare David’s life and encourage him, he knew that his ultimate hope was only in the Lord. He says, “But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you O Lord my God, who will answer (Psalm 38:15)”.
Our lives may not be as extreme as David’s was, but we still face highs and lows in our walk with God. Let us follow the example left by David and be honest with God when we go to Him and offer our prayers to Him.