“You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.” (Psalm 77:4)
That particular verse from the seventy-seventh Psalm is one of my favorite lines among the Psalms. It has often been my voice when I had no other voice.
Suffering has been a significant part of my life. As most who know me, my father passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was just twenty-three years old. Ten years ago my wife and I lost our first child who died as a newborn. A little over a year after our son died, my younger brother unexpectedly died and left behind a wife and two children.
Yet it has not just been my own personal suffering that has been a part of my life. As a minister I have also encountered the suffering of others who have invited to journey along with them for a time.
It’s never easy. As Christians we say that God is good (and trust me, I believe God is) but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Not when there is no rhyme or reason to such suffering, not when…well, you know.
In times like these, there seems to be a lot of doubt and that is ok. To every person who finds themselves doubting from time to time, it is ok to have such doubts. It’s a shame that some people have been scolded, so to speak, by their church as though such doubts are sinful. That only seems to cause people to suppress their burden among the people who ought to be bearing the burden with them (cf. Gal 6:2).
Somethings cannot be suppressed and ignored, now should they be. Besides, even if we wanted to close our eyes to such troubles, God keeps them from closing. Yet we are left without words for the moment. Is God really there? Does God really care? Will God really act if we cry out to him in prayer? Does God even want to?
Yet we do. We still cry out to God in prayer, even if our doubt has left us without anything to say except that we are “too troubled to speak.” When that voice of doubt cries out, it is the voice of faith. Just read the rest of this Psalm. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, the Psalmist cries out to God because in the midst of doubt there is still faith.
Something that I have learned along the way is that sometimes the greatest faith can be full of doubts but it is still a faith that chooses to believe amidst the uncertainty.