There are times when I get on my knees to pray, and I don’t feel like praying. There are times when I talk to God, and it doesn’t feel like He’s listening. There are times when I’m in a tough spot, and I feel like screaming, “God! Don’t You even care?” One thing I love about God is that He can handle my feelings, no matter how unruly they may be.
Especially when we feel overwhelmed and alone, it’s easy to withdraw into ourselves and avoid talking to God, but that’s not what God wants. He invites us to be totally honest with Him about what we’re experiencing. Lots of psalms show us how to do this—for example, Psalm 13 begins with the words, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (verse 1).
Don’t hesitate to express your frustration to God…but don’t stop there! As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, so we can choose to turn our hearts, our minds, and our actions toward the Lord no matter what we’re going through. He invites us to come to Him, to experience the freedom of worshipping Him and entrusting all our worries to His care. Here are some practices that can be helpful as we press into relationship with God:
Choose to trust. Psalm 13 begins with frustration, but later the author says, “I trust in your unfailing love” (verse 5). When life gets tough, we can rely on God’s love and remember His promises to us: He promised to send a Messiah to save us, and He did! Jesus Christ died and rose again so that everyone who puts their trust in Him can be with God forever. And Jesus promises to return one day and make all things new, free from sorrow and pain (Revelation 21:1-5). These promises are still true, regardless of our circumstances. We may go through times when we feel forgotten by God, but we can cling to the truth that Jesus is with us—always (Matthew 1:23; 28:20).
Choose to praise. Psalm 13 says, “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (verse 6). Praise is a choice that’s hard to make in frustrating times. But this action expresses, “My God is worthy of praise, no matter what.” And as we continue to acknowledge God’s goodness, we often find relief from our frustration.
Choose to give thanks. Even when we can’t think of anything to be thankful for, we can echo the words of Psalm 13: “my heart rejoices in your salvation” (verse 5). Christ’s sacrifice for us hasn’t been nullified when we don’t feel God’s presence. We can always thank Him for saving us. And we can also be thankful that He is still working in the midst of our frustrations, even when we can’t see it (John 5:17; Romans 8:28).
Choose to pray, even when you don’t see the point. In the middle of Psalm 13 is a desperate prayer, “Look on me and answer, Lord my God… ” (verse 3). The action of asking God for help communicates, “Even though I don’t understand, I know You listen to me and care about me.” And prayer is more than that. When we pray, we are communicating with the living God. We can come into God’s presence, because God has come into our presence…Jesus came to bring heaven to earth! As we come to God in prayer, He opens our eyes to the reality of how much He loves us.
When we bring our sorrows to God, we can reap a harvest of joy (Psalm 126:5-6)! When we choose to follow God in the midst of our frustrations, our perspective shifts from “God, where are You?” to “God, I trust You.” By choosing to interact with God, we experience an even stronger faith in Him, knowing that His love can’t be shaken, even in the hardest struggles. • Lily Walsh
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
• Have you ever tried to express your frustrations to God? What was it like?
• How could it be freeing to know that God can handle our feelings, and He wants us to be totally honest with Him?
• Consider taking a moment to come to God in prayer, telling Him about how you’re doing today. You could also try to practice one of the four choices: trust, praise, thank, or ask for help. You don’t need to worry about doing this perfectly—Jesus loves you, and He wants to walk with you every step of the way.
• If you want to know more about how to have a relationship with God through Jesus, who are trusted Christians in your life you could talk to? (You can also find out more on our “Know Jesus” page.)