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“Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15


When pain and trial become personal, it can be difficult to engage with God. The question “why do bad things happen to good people'' follows us because we all know suffering to one degree or another. The Psalms reflect a wide range of life experiences. In Psalm 38 we see someone in a deep, painful season of life. 

There are three directions we may go when approaching God during trials.

  1. We can move against God, blaming Him for everything.
  2. We can move away from God, silently being consumed by our struggle.
  3. Or we can move toward God, wrestling with Him in our questions and experiences.

Any of these may be a natural response. This Psalm shows a glimpse of how to move toward God in the thick of trial. The Psalmist pours out his heart honestly to God, all while keeping perspective of who God is.

In this prayer, David pours out his heart to God in earnest need. His anguish spreads through his physical, mental, and even social life. In the middle of all this, the Psalmist says “I will wait for you.” He turns toward God trusting that He will show up in the midst of suffering. 

The psalmist cries out for rescue and communion with the Savior. However, unlike many psalms, there is no word of praise at the end. We do not get a conclusion in this prayer. 

There may be times when our prayers appear to be unanswered. But we, like David, wait for the Lord. Our conversations with God may not include praise and worship 100% of the time. They may be full of lament to air out all thoughts and feelings. 

This Psalm shows us how to pray in a way that moves us toward God to truly wrestle through our experiences and questions. We are given a template of how to bring our honest pleas to God in prayer even if they end in dissonance. We turn to God and wait on our Savior who hears our full hearts. We can relate to David’s suffering and know that we are in good company with other godly individuals who have grappled with God through very trying times. 

Reflection Questions

  1. Can you think of a time when you have moved against, away, or toward God?
  2. Do you feel like you can honestly bring your complaints, doubts, and hurt to God?

Try praying this Psalm and ask the Spirit to lift up your season through these words.