This is a guest post from Marina Abdel Malak - a FrAnthony.com favorite when it comes to guest posts. In her previous posts, Marina spoke about her battle with ANOREXIA NERVOSA and how God helped her fight through it. Thanks to God, Marina has overcome her illness and therefore has become an inspiration to many people (including me!) via her inspirational blog. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
I'll be honest; the past few weeks have been tough for me. Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything seems dim and nothing seems to go your way?
You're tired and lacking sleep. You forgot to pay a bill and now have to pay interest. Your friends are angry with you because you don’t have the time to sit and talk with them. Your family is dismayed at your inability to complete daily tasks at home. Your boss and coworkers are making you feel inferior. Your next assignment is due tomorrow and you have no idea how it will get done in time.
You feel exhausted and long to get away from everything…forever. And on top of all that, just when you don't need to add anything else to your plate, you feel that God isn't there either! You're tired and frustrated and you just want to complain and let out a loud SCREAM!
And when you begin praying, you feel confused about whether or not this is REALLY prayer. Is it still prayer if I’m complaining to God, telling Him how alone and tired I feel? Is it still prayer if I am complaining to God, letting Him know that I am certain He has forgotten about me? Is God going to get angry at me for telling Him all of this? Is it better to just pray a prayer from the Bible so that I don’t say something I will regret?
After all, complaining to God may make Him angry…and then He will NEVER help me again. Right…???
Actually, it’s not right. We often get so absorbed into what prayer SHOULD sound like that we forget that prayer is nothing more than a conversation we have with our Father in Heaven. It's ok to tell God how we're feeling. Actually that's what prayer's made for!
"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
I have a confession to make: at times when I don’t ‘feel’ like praying, I feel like a rebel. I feel as though God will punish me for being angry with Him. And then I think WHY I don’t want to pray. It isn’t because I don't have time; but rather it's because I'm angry with my circumstances and I doubt that God will do anything about it. I feel like it's pointless to pray if all I'm going to do is tell God how tired and frustrated I am and He is going to respond by doing nothing.
And then, as though from God Himself (He is so good to us!), I think about figures in the Bible who struggled and felt hopeless as well. Job, who lost all his family and wealth. David, who was always on the run because of his enemies. Joseph, who was sold by his family to become a slave. Even Jesus, who was abandoned by His disciples.
Did all of them simply neglect God and stop praying when they felt tired, hopeless, or even angry with God? NO!
So what did they do then? THEY PRAYED EVEN MORE! They told God how tired they were, and they asked God to give them strength, hope, and faith.
Take Psalm 13 for example; this is my ‘go to’ Psalm when I feel hopeless and abandoned:
"How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?"
David was clearly distressed when he prayed this Psalm. He asks God how long He will forget him. He tells God that his heart is full of sadness. He asks God to help him and to save him from his circumstances.
But then, as so often he does, David lifts his eyes up and ends on a hopeful note:
"But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me."
What a beautiful prayer for when we feel disheartened and abandoned by God. Like David, we should not hesitate to let God know how sad or angry we feel. We should ask God for His guidance and strength. And finally, we should reaffirm our belief and faith in God, our faith that He can do all things – and that He does all things for our own good.
Whenever I feel this way, I take this psalm as my model for prayer. I recite it and continue to express my own thoughts in words during prayer.
I now realize that it is NOT wrong to complain to God, our Father. It is NOT wrong to tell God how confused and angry I am. But it IS wrong to let these feelings prevent me from praying. It IS wrong to blame God for everything, stating that He has no idea what He is doing in my life.
I have learned that in even the darkest moments, prayer can – and does – great things. It is at the times when I am most shaken that prayer seems to calm me. Deep in my distress and pain, I feel the peace of God pass over me as I simply express my feelings to Him in prayer.
Does life get better the instant my prayer is over? No. Of course not. But it could. And one day, things will get better. And I will see the purpose for my suffering, the reason why God allowed me experience pain and distress.
Job was rewarded with more wealth after his pain. David became the greatest king of Israel known. Joseph held one of the highest positions in Egypt. Jesus saved us from our sins and was seated at the right hand of the Father. All of these examples included ‘trusting in God’s mercy’ because of faith that He ‘will deal bountifully’ with His children.
When you feel distressed or angry, call on God in your prayers and allow your heart to rejoice in His salvation.
For discussion: think of a time when you felt distressed and wanted to complain to God. How did expressing this to God in prayer help you cope with the situation?