I remember once being in a large Christian conference in the south of England, and, as the Holy Spirit moved among the people who were there, many were receiving healing from deep inner hurts and grief. As they did, they were able to release their pain, sometimes with deep and loud cries. At the same time, others in the conference centre were experiencing deliverance from sin and bondage, and there were shouts of joy and thanksgiving.
It’s always seemed to me that that should be a normal experience when God’s people come together, but I know that many, who go to church on Sundays with their hearts breaking, go home again carrying their pain for another week. Perhaps we can so emphasise the need for joyful praise in our gatherings that we leave no place for those who are mourning, and they cry alone in private. I know that some Christians even stay away from church when their hearts are full of pain, because they feel unable to enter into the victorious praise songs at their church.
There’s something very precious if we can offer a sacrifice of praise, when there’s pain in our offering, but we do need to be able to acknowledge when we can’t do that. Psalm 30:5 tells us that ‘weeping may endure for a night but joy comes with the morning’. We often have to go through that night of weeping before light dawns again, but the Lord would want us to know the love and sympathy of brothers and sisters as we do.
Even Jesus, as He went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, asked His closest disciples, Peter, James and John, to be near Him as He prayed. Someone said to me recently that he felt there should be a place for lamentation within our worship repertoire and his comment is worth considering as we read the psalms, many of which start with an outpouring of grief and even complaint, before they reach a place of praise and thanksgiving.
Perhaps you’re in a dark place today struggling with pain and grief – it’s ok to be real with God about how you feel, because He’s ‘near to the broken-hearted’ and won’t stand at a distance from you. Jesus was described as ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’, but also as one anointed with gladness above His fellows.
He can handle our honesty about our highs and our lows, and I believe He’d want to encourage us, as His Church, to be able to do that also for those who’re struggling in our midst.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that I don’t have to suppress my tears before You, and that I can pour out my heart to You. Help me to be honest in Your presence, and help me also to draw near to others who’re in pain, to weep with them as well as rejoice. In Your name I pray. Amen.
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