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).


Post Comments (109)

109 thoughts on "A Prayer in Times of Sorrow"

  1. Amanda Smith says:

    Reading this today as I sit in the ICU waiting room. My mom is not doing well and some tough decisions need to be made. Praying for peace and love from God during this time of great sorrow. He is with us and He is covering my mom in His love.

    1. Julie Davidson says:

      Amanda, so sorry for this hard time. Praying The Lord has provided you with some comfort.

  2. Jami Nelson says:

    I have been living in a perpetual state of sorrow for several years. I didn’t realize until reading today’s study that sorrow over took me and I never stood back up. Now I understand exactly how to pray. Asking the Lord to restore my joy.

  3. Anna Fabrizio says:

    I had such a hard day yesterday I just cried and cried to the Lord for help. Here I am a day later reading this and I can’t even be surprised how on-par this reading is because He is so faithful!

    1. Taylor Barnett says:

      Love when God does this for me too! Just a reminder that’s he’s still there and that he’s got everything under control!

  4. Carrie M says:

    I have been in a season of sorrow. What was once a great promise of financial security in a job turned into feelings of rejection and now financial insecurity. Praying that I can wait on the Lord during this time and trust in His plan for my life.

  5. Sarah Grace says:

    Wow this is so relevant to my day. God knew what I needed to hear.

  6. Holly says:

    I am in a situation that is headed to a sorrowful ending in the next couple of months. It feels like a black hole I will not be able to avoid. I know that God will be with me through it and that I will come out the other side but right now it is very strange to know it’s there and yet still have mainly moments of peace and even joy and happiness. I do not know for certain when the heart-wrenching sorrow will hit but it is likely to be here any time from late July through September. I see things around my house that are here because of this awful thing coming and I catch myself wishing these complications would go away and my life and house could be normal again but then I realize when that moment arises I will be absolutely devastated. So as much as I hate the complications they are what is keeping life going right now so I need to embrace them as I also remember it will be okay even when I am in the midst of the black hole it will be okay and it will get better. I also need to remind myself that it is okay to wish things would be normal again without feeling guilt because I am not wishing for the end to come, I am really just wishing that the reality could be different. Through it all I feel His presence and thus I have peace in the middle of this mess. Thank you for your written words here, they really helped me today. I believe I was late getting to this Bible study because He knew I’d need these words to comfort me during this time.

    1. Stephen says:

      For me, the black hole opened up with no warning, but the result is the same. It’s going to be very hard at first, once the numbness wears off, but you are correct that it will get better. Lord, have mercy.

    2. Alyssa Anthony says:

      Sending love and prayers to you.

  7. Donna Hethcock says:

    So wonderful to read your post, Tina. I recognize you from several studies❤️ and feel you are a friend! I too ❤️the new song, SO WILL I. I encourage all to check out the lyrics and sing along at the top of your voice!!!

  8. Bethany Juhl says:

    Wow I needed this today. I’m 22 weeks pregnant and found out last week that our baby has brain abnormalities and is not expected to live very long after birth. I’ve already started to grieve and haven’t allowed myself to feel deep sorrow yet. I know the hardest part is yet to come but I know I’m not alone in this journey. The last paragraph is so powerful.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Thanks for sharing Bethany. We’re so sorry to hear this. We’re praying for you and your family today and are so grateful that you’re here reading along with us. -Margot, The SRT Team

    2. Emily Oien says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your baby. What great sorrow. You will be in my prayers.

    3. Susie Argil says:

      Bethany, thank you for sharing. I am praying for you today. I have a friend who went through a similar loss and she found great encouragement and support in a group called Hope Mommies. Their purpose is to help families who experience infant loss to find community, grief resources and the Hope of Christ. You are right when you wrote that you are not alone in the journey. I I am praying that you will experience the overwhelming, constant love of God today and in the days to come.

      1. Amy says:

        May you find strength and comfort in Christ.

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