Prayer in the Hard Places

depression

When you are in the hard places of life, you can’t help but wonder if you are getting exactly what you deserve. You begin to wonder if God is judging you for the things you have done. David felt like this, I know because he wrote about in Psalm 143.

“Don’t put Your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before You.” (Psalms 143:2 NLT)

The young man David, the one who defeated Goliath and was anointed king was on the run for his life. He was living in caves and hiding from king Saul who wanted to kill him. You can feel his agony as he wrote elsewhere in Psalm 88

“You have thrown me into the lowest pit, into the darkest depths. Your anger weighs me down; with wave after wave You have engulfed me.” (Psalms 88:6-7 NLT)

Yes, Saul was the one chasing him, but David believed that ultimately the things that were happening to him were from God.

I’ve been there. My life blew up with a tremendous explosion of disease and divorce that left my faith shaken. I certainly felt the same things that David felt. Some people have said that my life is sort of like Job’s but I say, perhaps, except for one thing. Job was so certain that he hadn’t done anything wrong. I don’t have that certainty; I’d have to agree with what David wrote. Please God, don’t put me on trial.

Perhaps you too feel this way. If so, I have good news for those who belong to Jesus Christ.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18 NLT)

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that there isn’t a trial waiting for me. There is no judgment against me. The things that have happened in my life are sometimes just random stuff that happens, like when people get sick. There are other things that are most certainly the consequences of bad choices I made along the way. Like David, I need to pray.

“I lift my hands to You in prayer. I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain.” (Psalms 143:6 NLT)

David felt a deep desire for God, like an incredible thirst that pushes you on searching for water. He wasn’t going to give up until he found it.

Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. (Psalms 143:7 NLT)

There is a desperation to his cry before the Lord. He recognized that depression was overtaking him. Other translations say that his spirit would fail. I’ve been there and maybe you have too. He worried that if God turned away he would die. How different this was from his words in Psalm 139

I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night–but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You. (Psalms 139:7-12 NLT)

Wait a minute David, don’t you know that God is never going to turn his face from you? Of course you do, but your fear is talking. In those moments, how we need God’s help to turn from fear to faith.

Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You. (Psalms 143:8 NLT)

In my depression, I didn’t want to hear about God or his unfailing love. The longer I went without going to church or connecting to a small group, the deeper the darkness became around me, but even in darkness I cannot hide from Him. The best thing for me was to hear of His unfailing love each morning. I do this by listening to the Daily Audio Bible each morning as I walk my dog.

There is something wonderful about the morning. As I walk in the cool air and watch the sun rise over the mountains I feel hope rising in my heart once again.  The prophet Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and wrote the book of Lamentations about his despair, but even in this book there is a glimmer of hope.

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!” The LORD is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. (Lamentations 3:20-26 NLT)

In the hard places, the dark moments when we are tempted to give in to despair, we need to pray as David did:

  • Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You
  • Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You.

We need to remember as Jeremiah did:

  • The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
  • His mercies never cease.
  • Great is His faithfulness;
  • His mercies begin afresh each morning.

No wonder this morning I found myself singing that old hymn

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father.
There is no shadow of turning with thee!
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been, thou forever will be

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand has provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

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