It is not uncommon for me to hear from chronic pain sufferers who think that they are being selfish when they cry out to God. Because they are so selfless, it feels so wrong for them to pray for themselves instead of praying for others, even when they are in desperate pain.
However, the Bible paints a different picture. Crying out to God in your pain is the most natural thing you could do. This doesn’t mean that you forget to pray for others or fail to acknowledge their suffering. In the words of a now famous meme, “Why not both?”
When you cry out to God, you are acknowledging he is your Redeemer. When God commissioned Moses from the burning bush he told Moses, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Ex. 3:7, emphasis mine). The connection between the people’s cries and God’s concern is directly stated, leading to God’s dramatic rescue of his people.
Throughout the Old Testament are those who cry out to God, who are not answered, and others who cry out to God and are answered. Sometimes the oppressed and the suffering have to wait on God’s deliverance. On some occasions, God did not answer, because they had cried out to other gods instead of him at first.
In the New Testament, the theme of crying out to God is present. When Jesus told the story of the persistent widow, his encouragement was to keep praying to God. He concludes with this encouraging word, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Lk. 18:7, emphasis mine).
When you want to cry out to God, please do! This is an act of faithfulness and acknowledgment of his status as Savior and Redeemer. To keep our pain within ourselves is to imply that we don’t need God to rescue us! Those in chronic pain may have to wait for deliverance, but we cry out to him because we know that eventually God will rescue us!
Don’t believe Christmas hymns that tell you Jesus was a baby who made no cry. Imagine in those first moments after Jesus was born, and his lungs were clear. How precious was the sound of his cries to his parents, but most importantly, to his heavenly Father. Thirty-three years later, he prayed in a garden, “Abba, Father!”
If the one who is God in the flesh cries out to God the Father, then we should as well. All the evidence proves that is what God wants from us, an authentic relationship that includes cries from the depth of our souls. He will hear, and he will answer.