May 15, 2020 • Life for Leaders
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest. . . .
But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid.
If we believe that God wants to teach us to pray through the Psalms, then it’s clear God wants us to learn to lament. Though the biblical psalms reflect a wide variety of themes and genres, you can’t read these inspired prayers without encountering lament after lament after lament. The psalm writers felt freedom before God to be honest about all they thought and felt. At times they would rejoice with an abandon that few of us experience. Yet, at other times, the psalmists would pour out their sadness before the Lord, sharing freely their grief, their impatience, and even their anger.
Psalm 22 begins with one of the most familiar laments in all of Scripture. Why do we know it so well? Because Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In his hour of deepest need, Jesus found borrowed words from this psalm in order to pour out his grief to his Heavenly Father. On the one hand, this encourages us to let the Psalms teach us to pray. On the other hand, the example of Jesus also underscores the freedom we have to share our laments with our Father in Heaven.
The following prayer is just one example of a work-related lament. If this prayer does not express your own situation and feelings, I urge you to feel free to offer to the Lord in your own words what you need to say. And, if you happen to be in a very positive season at work, perhaps you can lift up a prayer of lament on behalf of someone you know who’s going through a difficult time.
God, it’s been tough at work recently. I feel so tired, so discouraged. It seems like I’ve been working harder than ever, but my best efforts are ignored by my boss and my colleagues. I can do a hundred things right and hear nothing. But one mistake, just one mistake, and I hear all about it. I feel battered down. I worry that I might lose my job. And then there’s part of me that wants to quit.
But here’s what’s really bothering me, Lord. I have prayed about this before. I have asked for your help, again and again. Have you even heard me? And if you have, do you even care?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” My faith tells me you haven’t actually forsaken me. I want to believe that. But if you are still with me, why are things so bad?
“Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” Often it’s worse when I awaken in the middle of the night. I cry out to you but feel no relief. My fears rise up, empowered by the darkness. My prayers plunge, weighed down by doubt.
But you, O LORD, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid. In you I put my trust. Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day:
God invites you to approach his throne of grace with boldness, saying whatever you need to say. You will find mercy and grace to help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling Archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: The Tension of Faithful Prayer
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.