The Prayer of the Troubled Heart

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2).

What a reminder that we as disciples of Jesus can take comfort in and also cling to as we walk through various realities of being humans in a fallen world. The water, river, and fire represent afflictions, trials, and difficulties we face. Yet, God is with us in our most troubling times as we wade through a world that is afflicted with pain and brokenness. God is ever present and close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18) and He has great compassion for us as His creation. He loves us.

Sometimes this truth feels hard to step into let alone internalize especially in the midst of these afflictions and challenges. In Psalm 61, David is crying out to the Lord with little to no reservations. He pleas, “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer” (Psalm 61:1). In Hebrew, the word for cry is intense and can be translated to wailing. David was in distress and trouble, and he wanted to profess this without restraint to God. And so, he wailed out: “Hear my wailing, my loud cries, O God.” This specific psalm is one of lamenting which is a poem or hymn expressing human struggles. Ann Voskamp said that a “lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.”

Psalm 61 exudes a cry of belief in the Lord of Heaven and Earth. The Alpha and the Omega. The one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8). David’s circumstances were a bit different than many of ours (being in exile as the result of the rebellion of his son in Jerusalem), but one thing is clear — David’s heart is overwhelmed and faint. Many things can cause our hearts to be overwhelmed such as loss of a loved one, financial issues, family strife and disunity, loss of a job, loss of health, loss of a dream/hope. We all as humans will experience an overwhelmed heart just like David where we feel the reality of having no place else to go or no place to turn. Yet, we can lament unto a trustworthy God. David said, “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).

David chose the Lord over all of the false comforts that could have temporarily soothed or distracted his pain and overwhelm. He demonstrates the power of lamenting unto the Lord because he deeply understands that there is a place of refuge, there is a place of strength, there is a place of security that is found in the Lord who is higher than him and his circumstances. It is not always easy (to say the least) when we feel utterly undone and vulnerable, but for a believer it is incredibly comforting to know that at our farthest point we can turn to God for grace, endurance and strength.

Ephesians 3:17-19 is another reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness and immense care and love for his creation: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” The truth of this passage and character of the Lord reminds us that when we feel burdened, overwhelmed, broken hearted and/or crushed in spirit we can cry unto Him, that Rock that is higher than us. We need to speak this truth over ourselves as we cry unto Him for comfort and strength “for he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help” (Psalm 22:24). The Lord wants us to lament unto Him in all of our rawness.

David ends Psalm 61 with words of confidence and trust in the Lord. He says, “Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!” This is a great model of trust in the Lord even in the midst of trial and agony. We can take courage in this psalm that when our hearts feel overwhelmed and when we turn to God out of desperation, He will lift us out of the pit of despair and out of the mud and the mire. The Lord will set our feet on solid ground and steady us as we continue to walk forward with a new song to sing and praise on our lips for Him (Psalm 40:1-2). We may not know how long the trial or suffering will last but we do know we serve a God who turns to us and hears our cries and shows great compassion. Even more, The Lord goes before us and will be with us; he will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8) so we do not have to stay in the pit but can run to the towering rock of safety for anchoring and strength.

 -Carlyn Wood – Learn more about working with Carlyn here!

Stay Up to Date

Sign up below to receive post notifications & more!

Copyright © 2024 SureHope Counseling and Training Center · Theme by 17th Avenue