I’ve heard it said before that we should never pray for God to deliver us from suffering or tough situations, but that we should pray he would give us the strength to make it through them. I’ve also heard it said that God is more interested in what he is producing through our pain than he is in getting us out of our pain.
There is some truth in both of these statements as well as untruth. God does work in suffering to bring about character transformation and perseverance. He is interested in helping us through it. He does not promise rescue from it. However, these truths must be balanced with a counter-truth: God is a Deliver. A Savior by nature rescues.
Deliverance language is prominent throughout Scripture. Take the Psalms for example. More than 65 times the Psalmist uses this language. Psalm 107 is the quintessential deliverance psalm. This refrain structures the entire Psalm occurring 5 times (Ps 107:6, 13, 19, 20, 28). “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
Crying to the Lord for rescue is not only welcomed, it is prescribed. It is one avenue Scripture gives us for engaging our suffering. The Psalm is clear. God hears our cries and God acts upon them. Deliverance is connected to crying out.
In fact, it could be argued that the history of Israel pivots on the cries of God’s people. The Exodus is a clear example of this reality (Ex 2:23, 3:7-9). Israel cries. God delivers. We should never underestimate the ear of God. Cries move him.
This should encourage us to cry to him in our pain. It should push us to challenge the “overly spiritual” notion that God is not interested in removing us from our pain or taking our pain from us. He is a Deliverer. We must acknowledge the mystery in his sovereignty and the other biblical truths regarding pain. He does not always remove us from it or it from us.
Nevertheless, the biblical model we find in the Psalms is to cry with all our might for deliverance. We would do well to take the words of the Psalmist as our own. “Look on my affliction and deliver me” (Ps 119:153).