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A Prayer About the Spiritually Distressed

     O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. (Jeremiah 20:7)

     Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame? (Jeremiah 20:18)

     Dear heavenly Father, as I meditate on Jeremiah’s painful prayer, I’m praising you today for the freedom you give us to bring our unfiltered and unfettered feelings to you. For if we don’t bring our anguish, angst and anger to you, we will take these feelings somewhere. Someone will have to pay the price for the poor stewardship of our pain and confusion.

      You alone have a big enough heart and broad enough shoulders to walk with us through the chaos and confusion of our seasons of spiritual distress. I praise you for your welcoming and gracious heart.

     This record of Jeremiah’s lament is such a gift to us. What a comfort it is to know that the same prophet who assured others of your gracious promise and good plan—a plan for prosperity, not harm (Jeremiah 29:11)… the same prophet who gave us a vision of the glory and the grace of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)… this same prophet, like us, experienced seasons in which he felt deceived, betrayed and abandoned by you—even grieving the day he was born.

     This gives me courage as I’ll seek to be a better steward my own feelings. But today, it gives me compassion as I pray for a few friends who’re feeling exactly what Jeremiah felt. Father, for the friend I sat with yesterday who’s feeling set up, chewed up and spit out by you… bring the gospel to bear. He loves you, but he feels abandoned by you. He knows better, but he feels bitter. My instinct is to fix him, but the way of the gospel is to listen and to love. Give me patience and kindness, as I trust you to restore him to gospel sanity.

     For another friend whose spiritual melancholia is heading to an even darker place, Father, give me wisdom to know how to care for him. What’s purely physical? What’s to some degree demonic? What’s just plane ole pity-party? I don’t know, I just don’t know. Help me stay present in the mess while I trust you to bring your mercy to bear. Heal my friends, Father. Meet them as you met Jeremiah. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

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