You Hear, O Lord, the Desire of the Afflicted

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The Psalms tell us we are called to accept the mystery of suffering. But it is important to know that when God allows suffering, it isn’t because He doesn’t care or doesn’t hear. God hears the cries of the afflicted and encourages them.

The Lord sets His face against the proud, but He is for the humble, the outcast, the afflicted. I’ve seen it again and again.

My just born granddaughter, Sadie, is a gift from God to my daughter Sally and to her husband Phil. She was a much prayed for baby. During this difficult time, Sally was led to paint the character of Aslan (from the Chronicles of Narnia book series) because she wanted to try to get an answer to why a good God allowed so much suffering. He did give her a surprising answer...)

Often we don’t know why He allows suffering. We are called to accept the mystery of suffering, but we do know God is good.

We also know, according to the psalms, “He hears the desire of the afflicted; He encourages them, and listens to their cry.”

Sally and Phil cried out to the Lord during their three years of infertility. Sally had resolved that if God never gave her the desire of her heart, she would trust Him. But in this case He said, “Yes.” Sally and Phil are filled with gratitude. Their daughter was rushed to intensive care because Sally had an infection and a fever — but all is fine now. She came home Saturday night and Phil celebrated his first Father’s Day with great joy. Sally is overwhelmed with emotion—saying things like, “This is the most amazing experience of my life. I can see how motherhood is going to keep me on my knees. Sadie is going to be my little buddy everywhere I go! I appreciate you so much more Mom—how you love me. I have soooo many emotions of joy, love, gratitude, and—oh!”

Many of you know that God often allows suffering, and we must accept that mystery. But it is important to know that when He allows suffering, it isn't because He doesn't care or doesn't hear. Meditating on some of the passages below this will demonstrate that. Let your roots sink deeply into this truth, into the living water that will nourish your parched soul and reassure you of His love.

Take a question or two a day. Meditate. Sink your roots deeply into His Word.

  1. Use Psalm 9:1-2 as a way to begin your time of worship. Write down a few of His wonders. Sing praise to His name. 
  2. Meditate on Psalm 9:9-10. Find three truths about the Lord to remember in times of trouble.
  3. Psalm 10 is a classic psalm of lament. The following passages show the progression. Describe what you find:
    • What is David’s opening lament in verse 1? What is troubling him according to verses 2-9? Have you ever felt this way?
    • Describe David’s turn in Psalm 10:12-14. What does he remember about God?
    • Meditate on Psalm 10:17-18 and list what you learn about the Lord and your contemplations.
  4. How have you seen the truths of Psalms 9 and 10 in your life? How will you apply them to your life right now?
  5. Read all of Psalm 34. This psalm is filled with beautiful word pictures. Tap into your right brain as you look at them. If you were to paint them, what might you paint to depict each of the following?
    • Psalm 34:5
    • Psalm 34:6
    • Psalm 34:7
    • Psalm 34:8-10
  6. Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-15 when he is addressing believers facing persecution. When others are unkind to us, persecute us, or speak evil against us, how should we respond? How might you apply this to your life?
  7. The promise you are memorizing from the song (Psalm 10:17) is repeated in other words in Psalm 34:15 and Psalm 34:17-18. What new insight do these passages give you?
  8. It is important to put Scripture in the context of the whole Scripture. Standing alone, Psalm 34 could lead us to believe the righteous won’t suffer, or at least, will have any suffering removed fairly quickly. Yet the whole of Scripture teaches that God’s rescue might look quite different than we imagine. The disciples surely didn't expect Jesus to be crucified. My daughter Sally has suffered so much in the last fifteen years of her life—so her rescue wasn't fast, and there may be more suffering ahead. But I am seeing a character in her that has emerged through the fire. I’d like each of you to reflect on this in your own life.
    • How has suffering in your life resulted in perhaps a “different kind of rescue?”
    • What have you learned? How will this help you when you face suffering the next time?

 

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