When my friend Steve’s boys were younger and got hurt, they’d come running to their dad wailing, tears streaming down their cheeks. Steve would never baby them, but would joke around with them and try to make them laugh. A skinned knee would elicit something like, “Did you get any blood on your pants? Oh no, your leg’s falling off. I think we might have to amputate.” Most of the time, after a few minutes, they’d start laughing and get distracted from the pain they were experiencing as their leg actually was falling off. I’d usually wince a bit when he “comforted” his boys like this, but they grew up fine. They limp and twitch some, but they’re probably tougher than my kids.When you’re suffering, how do you think God responds to you? Do you imagine him saying something like:
* “Hey buck up. It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
* “Somebody call the Waaaaambulance”
* “Come on, you big baby, shake it off. Get over it.”
Our heavenly Father is filled with compassion for his blood-bought children. He has more sympathy than any human parent. Our God is not stoic and unaffected, but is touched by our afflictions. And we who have trusted in Christ can come to our Father and unburden our hearts to him. He longs for us to do this and he’s eager to help.
When David suffered he said things to God like, “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping” (Ps 6:6), and “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Ps 13.1-2).
How audacious these prayers sound to my timid ears. Yet we believers can come boldly to our Father and tell it like it is. God knows exactly what we’re going through. We’re not going to surprise him. Listen to how Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher from the 1800s, describes how he appealed to his heavenly Father’s compassion:
“I have found it a blessed thing, in my own experience, to plead before God that I am his child. When, some months ago, I was wracked with pain to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room, and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, “Thou art my Father, and I am Thy child; and Thou, as a Father, art tender and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as Thou makest me suffer; and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt Thou hide Thy face from me, my Father? Wilt Thou still lay on me Thy heavy hand, and not give me a smile from Thy countenance?” I talked to the Lord as Luther would have done, and pleaded his Fatherhood in real earnest. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” If He be a Father, let Him show Himself a Father — so I pleaded; and I venture to say, when they came back who watched me, “I shall never have such agony again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.” I bless God that ease came, and the wracking pain never returned.” — Charles Spurgeon, The Full Harvest, 197
Spurgeon’s prayer provokes me. I want to pray with more boldness, fervency and faith in my Father’s tender compassion. I want to pour out my heart to my Father like Spurgeon did. I pray that Spurgeon’s example will provoke you to plead God’s Fatherhood as well.