“Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.” (Psalm 102:1–2)
One of the things that I love about the Psalms is their honesty. Certainly there are psalms of victory and celebration, but if you read through all of the psalms you don’t get a sense of the continual victorious life. You get real, raw honesty about the struggles of life and the difficulties that people face.
The honesty of the psalms helps us because they allow us to connect our experience with God’s word. We know times of suffering and grief, so when we read of honest struggles with both we can see ourselves reflected clearly in the Scriptures. We connect our experience with the experience of those who wrote the Bible.
The honesty of the psalms also teaches us a foundational truth: we can be honest with God. The psalms speak with brutal honesty at times, but they always speak that brutal honesty to God. When we find life difficult and challenging we can either run toward God or run away from him. The psalms encourage us to run toward God however we are feeling and whatever we are thinking.
Do you find it easy to be honest with God? I know that I don’t. I feel as if I need to be holy and religious in my language for God to hear me and if I speak honestly I am somehow failing to treat God as he ought to be treated. But the psalms tell us otherwise. They tell us that we can be very honest and open with God about our emotions, thoughts and struggles. God does not close his ears to those kinds of prayers. Quite the opposite, God hears them and encourages us to be honest with him.
Take Psalm 102 for example. It contains some really honest talk with God. We don’t know who wrote the psalm but whoever it is does not shy away from saying how they feel. They even accuse God of taking away their strength (v23) and thrown them aside (v10). I don’t know about you, but I would struggle to speak to God like that, but we can and the psalms even say we ought to.