Day 8

A Prayer in Times of Sorrow

from the Psalms for Prayer reading plan


Psalm 86:1-17

BY Kaitlin Wernet

Scripture Reading: Psalm 86:1-17

There was a season of my life when it seemed like weeping willows were suddenly sprouting on every corner. At the time, I had just taken up a new habit of running and can remember having to duck my head and step carefully on the trails so as to not tangle my feet on their branches. An artist like DaVinci or Monet probably would have been inspired by their presence. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of girl who thinks poetically about things like pollen. I’m more prone to believe the trees are just standing in my way.

That’s exactly how I feel about sorrow—it had better stay in its own lane. I wish my experience with sorrow was only as extensive as a good cry at the end of a sad movie. But the truth is my shoulders have been crushed by the weight of grief, leaving me to feel like a weeping willow: arms fallen, exasperated, feeble. I’ve tried not to give myself over to the weight of my sadness for fear I won’t be able to stand back up again.

It’s easy to see why we call them “weeping” willow trees. They were first given their name because of the way rain falls from their branches resembling tear drops. However, they grow best near water, able to absorb large quantities of water during floods. In fact, when strategically planted beside ponds, they can even help to prevent ground erosion. And in a way, our sorrow is like that too. Avoiding it may appear to be the best survival tactic, but taking it in and then bringing it honestly before God is one way He strengthens and grows us.

Protect my life, for I am faithful (Psalm 86:2).

I used to think weeping willows looked like crippling sorrow, the kind you never fully recover from. They seemed to be consistently sad, their branches swaying on the ground in the wind. Yet, now I wonder if the posture of a weeping willow tree isn’t so much a picture of what sorrow does to us, as it is an image of what we’re to do with our sorrow. Heads bowed in submission to the Lord, we can expose the depth of our sadness to Him without hesitation.

All the nations you have made will come and bow down before you, Lord, and will honor your name (v. 9).

Despite their appearance, weeping willows are one of the fastest growing trees around, gaining 8 to 10 feet per year. This rapid growth may be one of the reasons they have a relatively short life span. But to me, somehow this signifies the promised end of our sorrow. While the layers of sadness that fill us here on earth are many, joy is our eternal posture.

Lord, give strength to your servant (v. 16).

Sorrow stretches us in ways we probably wouldn’t ever choose for ourselves, but it strengthens us all the same. Deep sorrow makes way for great joy. By His grace, may we embrace the sorrow that seems to stand in our way, allowing it to remind us of God’s kindness, of how He strengthens, comforts, protects, and renews us. In this way, our hope and joy are not far off and distant, but present with us each and every day, just as He is. Amen.

Bring joy to your servant’s life, because I appeal to you, Lord (v. 4).

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Post Comments (108)

108 thoughts on "A Prayer in Times of Sorrow"

  1. Brianna Bogner says:

    God ,
    Help me to remember to bow my head in both good times and bad and to not forget the one who formed me . Help me to share your love with others and to be willing to pray for them and share with them what you have done . Amen

  2. Natalie Tyler says:

    Noting again that the Lord calls us to bring all of our feelings to him honestly so he can give us his strength and show us his grace. Bring him sorrow, bring him anxieties, bring him whatever feelings are true and real and he will show you the face of grace. Praise be to God.

  3. Molly Gilbane says:

    Thank you Lord for always being present and near us both in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Thank you for reminding us through sorrow that there is joy up ahead. Thank you for strengthening, comforting, and protecting us— allowing us to weather any storm. Amen

  4. Sharon Ide says:

    The passage highlights that when we are aware of our pitiful state as fallen humanity, and recognize the greatness of our God, we must be stirred to prayer.

  5. Bailie Williams says:

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant at at 25 weeks we found out our sweet boy has some serious heart defects. It wasn’t until this past week that l really let myself open up and feel the sorrow of what we are facing. This study came at the absolute perfect time for me. Praying for the peace and joy that only God can provide.

    1. Molly Gilbane says:

      Praying for your little one, Bailie. May God place His healing hands on his heart and heal him.

  6. E Hong says:

    Great is His steadfast love ! Really loved the symbol of the weeping willoe

  7. E Hong says:

    Even though we may feel sad in this world, we will ultimately have happiness as our permanent state in heaven -ellie

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