Psalm 44 – When We Complain to God

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The Psalms reflect the life of God’s people. Their relationship with God was so genuine that they could accuse God of being unfaithful when their lives became unbearably painful.

When deep loss comes to us, we don’t have to paste a smile on our face and pray something that we really don’t mean. We can and should pray, but we can tell God exactly how hurt and angry we are.

The Apostle Paul turned to Psalm 44 to describe the pain of persecution that was experienced by Christians in the first century. He quoted verse 22 and wrote.

As the scripture says,
“For your sake we are in danger of death at all times;
we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered”
(Romans 8.36).

Holocaust survivors have used Psalm 44 to honestly express their anger and pain to God over the horrific injustice of that experience.

We, too, can use the Psalm to help us talk to God about our confusion, anger and pain during times of great loss.

Great Memories

The Psalm begins by recounting the good memories of God’s victories (See verses 1-8). Two verses illustrate how God gave his people the promised land.

Verse 1With our own ears we have heard it, O God—
our ancestors have told us about it,
about the great things you did in their time,
in the days of long ago . . .

Verse 3Your people did not conquer the land with their swords;
they did not win it by their own power;
it was by your power and your strength,
by the assurance of your presence,
which showed that you loved them.

The people of God were instructed to tell the story of God’s victory to their children throughout the generations. The message was, “We were slaves of the king of Egypt, and the Lord rescued us by his great power. He freed us from Egypt to bring us here and give us this land, as he had promised our ancestors he would” (Deuteronomy 6.21, 23).

People with a church background know the wonderful story of God’s love. Our music and sermons often speak of God’s amazing love and care for his children.

Painful Experiences

How do we respond when God seems distant and his care appears to be absent? How does the experience of suffering affect our understanding of God?

Verse 9 begins with the word, “But.” That one word signals a serious change in the experience of God’s people. Their pain is expressed from verses 9-18. The three verses below capture the essence of the issue.

Verse 9 But now you have rejected us and let us be defeated;
you no longer march out with our armies.

Verse 12 You sold your own people for a small price
as though they had little value.

Verse 14 You have made us a joke among the nations;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.

Instead of the victory that was celebrated in telling about the conquest of the land of promise, defeat was the reality of their existence. They felt rejected, sold out by God, and a joke among the nations.

I deeply appreciate the honesty of the Bible. It gives us permission in a Holy Spirit inspired Book to complain to God.

Suffering often changes the world view of people. They give up on God and feel that they can no longer rely on him as they once thought.

Suffering causes resentment and distance from God. Many people don’t feel like they have the freedom to complain to God as did the speaker in Psalm 44. As a result, they harbor a resentment and grow apart from God.

I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are in pain, bring your pain and grief to God. Tell him exactly what you think. Express your anger and hurt to him. Don’t let your pain close the door of your life to God.

Complaint

In verses 18-22 the speaker says in effect, “We’ve been faithful to you, but you haven’t been faithful to us.”

Verses 18-19We have not been disloyal to you;
we have not disobeyed your commands.
Yet you left us helpless among wild animals;
you abandoned us in deepest darkness.

The people of God who prayed this Psalm were not sinless, but they had remained faithful to God. They had not worshiped idols or served substitutes for God. Yet, they felt abandoned by God.

These verses continue our education in how to come to God when we feel he has been unfair to us. It is entirely appropriate to tell God exactly how we feel about the suffering we are experiencing.

God is able and willing to hear our raw feelings. He much prefers to hear your complaint than your silence. He knows that if you express you anger, you still have the door open to him. That open door will give him room to help you.

Prayer for Help

Even with hurt and angry feelings, the speaker did not give up on prayer. The Psalm ends with an appeal for God’s help.

Verse 23 Wake up, Lord! Why are you asleep?
Rouse yourself! Don’t reject us forever!

Verse 26Come to our aid!
Because of your constant love save us!

It is hard not to notice the very bold praying in verses 23 and 26. These words are addressed to the Mightiest Being of All and God approves of them. In fact, he encourages this kind of strong appeal for help.

We are able to approach God with a full range of emotions because of his constant love. God can’t be offended by our honest words. He won’t turn a deaf ear to us like a petulant and petty king.

He invites us in this Psalm to come to him honestly and earnestly about all that concerns us.

May We Pray for You?

The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the team to pray, too.

2 Comments

  1. Giving glory to God in the midst of grief and loss does not come without confusion, without tears, without moments of nearly paralyzing heartache. Yesterday was one of those days where raw emotions were bubbling just under the surface.

    Last Tuesday, one of my girls finally left an abusive 5-year relationship with what she could fit in a few plastic totes. She and two young ones are in my home as we try to find housing for them, a job, and a car. The car was easiest – the other two will be more difficult. Yesterday, 6 days of upheaval took their tole on her, understandably so, and her anger lashed out at me resulting in my tears spilling over in an embarrassingly public spot.

    Even as I couldn’t think of how or what to pray, God sent two believers to stand with me and pray over the boys and I – to refocus my mind from all that feels so wrong in my life to the One who is so Right.

    I share that raw moment to say that God understands that we can’t always be strong. And we can’t always find our voice. He does let us pour out our complaints and our aches and He is faithful to calm us. Even in a farm field, in the cold, with two little boys not understanding why mom is mad and Grandma is crying – God sent a prayer warrior to intervene. And God soothed and calmed the anger. He dried the tears of confusion, loss and fear. He is faithful. He cared that in that moment, in that place, memories of Mike and his love of farm life added to my sense of loss, to my sadness. To God be all glory.

    Thank You, Father in Heaven for letting us pour our hearts to you. Even in pain, anger, confusion. You welcome our honesty. You alone are my heart’s desire. My soul longeth after You. Amen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise, I am thankful that you have others who pray with you. I am also thankful that we can bring all of our burdens to the Lord. Praise God that your family has you to help in times of need. Two beautiful grandchildren will be wonderfully influenced by your love and wisdom.

    Like

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