When Pain Leads to Praise

Lysa TerKeurst

Day: 70 | Plan: Even If

Today's Reading: Psalm 145

Psalm 145:18 (ESV) "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."

Today's passage of Scripture feels monumental. This is the last entry we will read from David in the book of Psalms. We have learned so much from him along the way. And God's message to us through David in this particular psalm? We are called to be a people of praise.

In verses one and two alone, David uses three different Hebrew words for praise — saying that he will "extol" his God and King (אֲרוֹמִמְךָ,˒ărômimkā, v. 1a), he will "bless" Him (אֲבָרֲכָה, ˒ăbārăkāh, v. 1b, 2a), and he will "praise" His name forever (אֲהַלְלָה, ˒ăhallāh, v. 2b).

David then goes on to share why our God is so deserving of praise. Psalm 145:8 is almost word for word what God declares when He reveals Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is the reminder that He is "... gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love ... " (Exodus 34:6). We also read that our God helps the feeble, (Psalm 145:14) sustains all of creation, (Psalm 145:15-16) answers those who pray, (Psalm 145:18-19) and protects those who are His. (Psalm 145:20)

It's easy to praise God when we feel like these things are true. When we feel helped, well-provided for, heard and protected. But what about when we don't?

I remember waking up on what I thought would be an ordinary Monday two summers ago. But nothing was normal. I was in excruciating pain, and I knew something medically was wrong.

I felt as if knives were mercilessly carving their way through my insides. My family rushed me to the emergency room, where we all hoped I could find some relief and help.

As panic gave way to desperation, I cried out for God to please take my pain away or help the doctors figure out how to help me.

But He didn't. Not that moment. Not the next. Not even the next day.

His silence stunned me.

I kept picturing Him standing beside my bed seeing my anguish, watching my body writhing in pain, hearing my cries but making the choice to do nothing. And I couldn't reconcile that.

How could He say I'm His daughter whom He deeply loves but let me lie there in so much pain?

After five of the longest and most excruciating days of my life, a new doctor finally had some answers.

The right side of my colon had ripped away from the abdominal wall and twisted around the left side. The blood flow was completely cut off, and my colon had distended to the size of a large football. Emergency surgery was imperative.

Had God taken away the pain, I would have gone home, my colon would have ruptured, my body would have turned septic, and I would have died. The pain was what kept me in the hospital.

And in the end, it was the pain that God used to save my life.

I now have a completely different picture of God standing beside my hospital bed. He wasn't ignoring me. No, I believe it took every bit of holy restraint within Him to not step in and remove my pain. He loved me too much to do the very thing I was begging Him to do.

He knew things I didn't know. He saw a bigger picture I couldn't see. His mercy was too great. His love was too deep. Indeed, He is a good, good Father.

He was not far off like I'd imagined as I lay writhing in pain. He was near. So very near. Just like David tells us in Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."

He was loving me through the pain. It was necessary pain — life-saving pain I can look back on now with new eyes. It's given me a whole new outlook on the times when God seems silent.

His silence was part of the rescue. And I now see the pain as a reason for praise.

Prayer: Father, You know the heartache and pain we are facing. Help us trust and believe You are not far off, but are very close, holding us — comforting us. Help us to choose to praise You today. And keep reminding us that Your Word is true, even on the days it doesn't feel very true. We know You are good. And we declare our trust in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

More Moments:

The emphasis of Psalm 145 is a desire to praise the name of God "forever and ever". (Psalm 145:1-2)... Read More

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