Psalm 22 - From Suffering to Praise

Psalm 22
From Suffering to Praise
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
April 22, 2018
Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

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Psalm 22
From Suffering to Praise

Psalm 22 starts out describing David’s suffering, but it ends in his praise.  The question is, how do we do this in our own lives?

Woe is me

Psalm 22:1-8
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far from my deliverance
and from my words of groaning?
2 My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
by night, yet I have no rest.
3 But you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in you;
they trusted, and you rescued them.
5 They cried to you and were set free;
they trusted in you and were not disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by people.
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me;
they sneer and shake their heads:
8 “He relies on the Lord;
let him save him;
let the Lord rescue him,
since he takes pleasure in him.”

David starts this Psalm with... Oh WOE is ME!!!  God Life stinks!!!

I’m going to be perhaps brutally honest here… I think I’ve heard this before.  I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before and if I had to guess, I’m pretty sure you’ve said it or at the very least thought it.
Now we might not have used these exact words, but notice the pattern here. It starts out with the questions: Why aren’t you listening to me? Why aren’t you giving me an answers?  I keep asking, and I’m getting nothing….

The David goes right into saying You’ve answered other’s people prayers.  In other words, I’ve seen you do it for other people, why aren’t you doing it for me?

And he ends it with, well I guess I’m just not good enough.

Now again, I’m pretty sure this is a pattern we have all fallen into before. Maybe you’ve said it in anger… Maybe you say it in disbelief… Maybe you say it with a manipulative heart… Regardless, there is a pattern here, that I think we sometimes fall into and I think that part of the reason why we fall into this pattern is becomes our suffering has gotten to the point that it stirs something in us… It has been bearing down on us so long that it drives us to the point, that we say something to God that we probably wouldn’t normally say.  In other words, we are suffering to the point we hit a breaking point…

And when we start to have these kinds of thoughts, then we are focusing on ourselves.  The first part of this Psalm was all about David and how much the Lord wasn’t answering HIS prayers.  It was an inward focus.

Whoa is Him 
But then we see David’s psalm start to take a turn. And he begins to turn his focus toward God.  And in doing so he remembers who God is to him.

Psalm 22:9-10
9 It was you who brought me out of the womb,
making me secure at my mother’s breast.
10 I was given over to you at birth;
you have been my God from my mother’s womb.

I’ve kind of playfully titled this point. Whoa is Him…  The first point is woe is me… "woe" as in suffering… and this second point is "Whoa!" as in amazement.

And here David gets to this point of amazement by remembering who God is to Him.  He remembers that God hasn’t actually turned His back on him… He hasn’t forsaken him, but instead He has been with him from the start. 

And the truth is, it is so important for us to remember all the things God has done for us.  It helps us refocus on Him and reminds us that He hasn’t left us, that He does hear us and it helps remind us, just how great God is.  But most importantly, it helps us turn our inward focus to an outward focus, where we once again are in awe of Him. 

And what this might look like for us for us, is that right in the middle of all of our suffering… right when we get to that low point in life, we take a moment to begin to think back to all of those great things God has done in our life:  specific miracles where it had to be God.  And when we remember these things we become in awe of God once again.

Request in remembrance of His power 
One we reach the point where we are once again in awe of God, at this point we should offer up our prayer requests.  Because it is when we are in awe of God, that we can ask for things with a humble heart. David presents his request in the next part of the psalm…

Psalms 22:11-21
11 Don’t be far from me, because distress is near
and there’s no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong ones of Bashan encircle me.
13 They open their mouths against me—
lions, mauling and roaring.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are disjointed;
my heart is like wax,
melting within me.
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You put me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people look and stare at me.
18 They divided my garments among themselves,
and they cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, Lord, don’t be far away.
My strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Rescue my life from the sword,
my only life from the power of these dogs.
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth,
from the horns of wild oxen.

Then praise expectantly
After this, David shifts his entire focus to God and it is at this point that David can praise God and give God all the glory (even though his prayer hasn’t been answered yet… he can praise God in anticipation that it will be (Mark 11:22-24).

So, David prayed for strength and protection, and David believed in his heart that God would deliver…so he begins to no longer focus on his problems, but rather focus on God’s goodness and he begins to praise God.

Psalms 22:22-31
22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters;
I will praise you in the assembly.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
All you descendants of Israel, revere him!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the torment of the oppressed.
He did not hide his face from him
but listened when he cried to him for help.

25 I will give praise in the great assembly
because of you;
I will fulfill my vows
before those who fear you.
26 The humble will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him.
May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember
and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations
will bow down before you,
28 for kingship belongs to the Lord;
he rules the nations.
29 All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down;
all those who go down to the dust
will kneel before him—
even the one who cannot preserve his life.
30 Their descendants will serve him;
the next generation will be told about the Lord.
31 They will come and declare his righteousness;
to a people yet to be born
they will declare what he has done.

So, to sum up Psalm 22…
It starts with David complaining to God, just like we do.. God why don’t you answer  me… You answer other people’s prayer requests… I guess I just not good enough…

But then he begins to shift his focus from himself, to God and when he  does, He remembers just who God is and is once again in awe of Him. 

Then he presents his prayer requests and he prays and asks God for God’s promises to come true in His life.

And the psalm finishes with David completely turning his focus to God by praising Him. 

So, for us, to turn our suffering into praise, we must do the same thing.  We must shift our focus from ourselves to God.  And we do this by…

1. Remembering who God is to us… 
2. In that remembrance of His power, we then offer up our prayer requests.
3. Then we finish turning our focus to God by entering into a time of praise and adoration… knowing that our prayers have already been answered.

What suffering are you experiencing in your life today?

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