Best of Daily Reflections: Wake Up, O Lord!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?

Get up! Do not reject us forever. Why do you look the other way?

Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?

(Psalm 44:23-24)

Psalm 44:23-24 comes in the context of an extended lament, in which the psalmist accuses God of mistreating his people, even though they have not broken his covenant (v. 17). The lament concludes with this gripping verse: “But for your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep” (v. 22).

In desperation, the psalmist cries out to God as if he were sleeping: "Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up!" (v. 23). I love the honesty of this cry. It hasn't been cleaned up theologically. It's bold, brash, and one might almost say, inappropriate. Who would assume to speak to God in this way? Only one who had confidence in God’s ability to hear with grace. Only one whose relationship with God was intimate enough to risk such open-hearted prayer. Only one who felt safe revealing the depths of his or her heart to the Lord.

If you’ve walked with the Lord for some time, you have no doubt experienced times of desperation in your relationship with him. You have known moments when it seems as if God is sleeping. You have felt as if God was ignoring your suffering.

I remember a time when my son was an infant. He was terribly sick, with a fever over 105 degrees. I was up with him for most of the night, trying to let my wife get some rest. Nathan spent most of that night crying in agony. I felt consumed by worry for my son, not to mention exhausted from lack of sleep. I had been praying on and off for hours. Finally, at about four in the morning, I yelled at God through my tears. I told him I would never let someone I love go through this. I said things to God that I would never put in writing. They were too terrible, too personal, too much like what we read in the Psalms.

Now, as I look back on that moment, I marvel at the freedom I felt to tell the Lord exactly what was on my heart. He didn’t consume me with holy fire or throw me into the pit. Rather, he used that experience to reassure me that I can open my heart to him, confident in his mercy.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever cried out to God in the mode of Psalm 44? When? What happened? What gives you confidence to be honest with God?

RAYER: Dear Lord, today as I reflect upon this psalm, I am not in a place of desperation. But I remember times when I cried out to you as if you were asleep and ignoring me. How I thank you for the freedom you give me to be honest with you, to hold nothing back. How gracious you are, King of kings, to let me speak my mind and share my heart with you. What a privilege this is, Lord, what a privilege!

Help me, dear Lord, to trust you enough to pray with boldness. May I always have the freedom to open my heart to you, no matter what. Amen.

P.S. from Mark

My book No Holds Barred: Wrestling With God in Prayer is based on the Psalms. In this book, I let the Psalms teach us to pray with greater freedom, depth, and breadth.