Stop the pain: for my sake or God's sake?
Stop the pain: for my sake or God’s sake?
The Psalms are full of prayers to God that express our deepest longings as humans. Each of them hints at a different facet of God’s character and how to approach him. Psalm 83 has a tone that is different from most in one primary way. When Asaph (the writer) presses his plea, he does so primarily directing the motivation for the prayer at God’s reputation, name sake, personal dignity and internal consistency. He appeals to God for God’s sake – almost as if he were praying on God’s behalf to God himself.
He starts off the way most prayers do in difficult times, “O God, do not remain silent, do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.” It would be very natural for any of us to pray this when we’re going through pain or worry, standing before God asking for help. But then if you watch Asaphs words, he makes a distinct turn – thinking God’s thoughts after him. Instead of saying, “I need help, stop this bad thing from happening,” he uses the pronoun, “you,” and “your.”
· Your enemies growl
· Your foes
· Against your people
· Plot against those you cherish
· Form an alliance against you
Asaph is concerned for the Lord. He is empathizing with God’s heart for himself and for his people. How often do we align ourselves with God’s will and heart that we are able to pray in this way? Most Jews say themselves as an integral part of the community. They were not as individualistic as most in our western way of life. They thought of themselves as together, and when they were thinking rightly about their position before God, they saw themselves as a people – as uniquely his, set apart for his purposes, chosen and called by him to be a light and blessing to the nations. So when the jewish writer of this psalm appeals to God he is not only historically accurate but pulls on God’s endearing heart towards HIS people. Asaph knows his people’s identity well enough that he’s able to state that God cherishes his people.
When we approach God do we know our identity before him as his bride? As the church, the bride of Christ we are cherished by God, loved and known by him and he is jealous for us and our purity. When we pray for the suffering to stop, can we pray with such confidence as Asaph; relying on the Lord’s zeal for his people (us), rather than purely on our own individual internal strife as a reason for God to move? Do we pray with God’s heart in mind for us or our heart in mind for ourselves?
When we are in physical or emotional pain it is very hard to get outside of our own heads. But when we get out of ourselves and into the heart and mind of God, he gives perspective, relief from the cares of this world. Let Psalm 83 be a reminder to us that when our identity in Christ is firm, we can approach God empathetically and find rest for our souls. This week try directing your prayers on God’s behalf because of what you know he cares about, appealing to his interests and his glory.
Written by Sky Cady