May 05, 2021 • Written by Rachel Boulos
When Your Suffering Feels Meaningless and Unseen
Some seasons in life are so crushing that there simply are no words. Language fails to express the depth of your anguish. In those seasons, it can be difficult to pray.
Sometimes all I can do in those moments is weep; and in between my tears cry, “Lord, see”.
And that is enough.
In Psalm 6:6-9, David tells us that God hears the sound of our weeping and regards it as a prayer:
“…for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.”
When the Israelites were suffering under slavery, God said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their outcry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them…” Exodus 3:7-8 (emphasis added)
This is utterly astounding. Not only is God aware of our pain, but He sees our most heartbreaking moments and hears the sound of every gut-wrenching cry.
He sees, He hears and He cares.
Yet the sound of our weeping doesn’t cause Him to recoil in disgust. Our crying doesn’t provoke chastisement or a lecture on faith. Culture, friends or family may despise what they see as weakness but God does not. He welcomes all who are needy and afflicted. Our distress cry moves Him to action.
When we are distraught and someone responds to our pain by gently saying, ‘Tell me about it; I want to hear’, it immediately lowers our stress level and brings an internal sense of relief. When we are in distress, we long to be seen and heard and for someone to offer care and support.
God does this for us. Your pain will not go unaddressed or ignored. God is moved with compassion by the cries of His people and is near to the brokenhearted (Ps 34:18). You can pour out your whole heart – the sorrow, sadness, and hurt – to Him. Our cares, He carries. When God hears the voice of your weeping, He moves in close to listen, comfort, deliver and save (Jer 30:17, 33:6-9, 2 Cor 1:3-4).
In Psalm 56:8, David tells us that God not only hears our cries but also keeps track of all our sorrows.
“You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”
In ancient Jewish culture, mourners would collect their tears in a tear bottle or lachrymatory and then seal it as a sign of their love for the deceased. Many times the spouse or family member of the deceased would wear this leather-skin bottle around their neck as a memory of their loved one.
In this verse, David asks God to take his tears and wear them around his neck as a memorial. In this word picture, God keeps David’s tears continually with Him as a reminder so that his sorrow and suffering will not be forgotten. What a tender expression of God’s care and concern for us.
David understood something about pain and grief that our Western culture has long forgotten. When we experience suffering, trauma, bereavement or profound loss, it tears at the tissue of our mental and emotional framework. When suffering goes unaddressed, ignored or repressed, those tissues remain disturbed and unhealed (Ed Prideaux, BBC). Memorials and times of remembrance, whether individually or collectively, ascribe value to what was lost and provide meaning.
God does this with us. He validates our suffering and sorrow. Your pain is not meaningless or insignificant. The Creator of the universe Himself ascribes meaning to your pain by carrying with Him the memory of your heartache and loss. Your tears are precious to Him and worth keeping as a memorial. Jesus “invites you to bring it all to Him and receive His grace and redemption. God wants to generously lift you up and restore what has been broken by this world of pain and sin” (Kristi McClelland).
As children of God, our sorrow will not have the last say. The Bible is full of promises and examples of God abundantly restoring what has been lost (Joel 2:25-26, Job 42:10, 1 Pet 5:10). Those who trust in Jesus as Savior can be confident that their suffering will never be a meaningless waste. Even the darkest years will not be counted as loss.
God is life and a restorer of life. He alone has the power to truly mend and make whole. He promises to make all things right, render justice where it is due, multiply goodness, heal the brokenhearted, and abundantly restore what was taken or lost (Ps 147:3, Rom 8:28, 12:19). The future He promises His children is one that is good and full of hope. And a day is coming when He will put an end to every pain and wipe every tear from our eye (Rev 21:3-4).
Until then, when the words escape you, it’s okay to just cry. You can fall into the gracious arms of God and pour out your whole self to Him. He sees you, He hears your voice and He cares about your pain. Your lament is still a prayer – one that is precious and cherished by Him.