After Charleston: Praying Through the Pain

Pain finds its way into the lives of all people. The good news is that God listens to our cry for His merciful comfort.

Posted in , Jun 25, 2015

Raymond Smith of Charleston kneels in prayer the front of the Emanuel AME Church before a worship service, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C.

With heavy hearts, our prayers continue for the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and for the families of the nine victims whose lives ended senselessly by the heinous act of a madman. This past Sunday, the congregation gathered to worship, pray and remember those killed. In the midst of unspeakable pain, they turned to God for comfort and strength to go on.

Praying when wounded doesn’t always come easy. Words often fall short in conveying the indescribable agony deep within a crushed heart. Tears streaming down our cheeks are all our broken hearts can speak…groans of anguish become the language our souls.

Pain is universal. It finds its way into the lives of all people. The good news is that no matter in what emotional state we find ourselves, God listens to our cry for His merciful comfort.

The Bible is filled with prayers and pleas from those in pain. The people of God, exiled in Babylon, cried out, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” God heard their cry, yet their suffering continued.

When Jesus arrived late to his friend’s house in Bethany, Martha, the sister of Lazarus, said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and all those with her as well, he was moved in spirit. He wept with them and prayed. Anguish turned to joy as God intervened to raise Lazarus.


In her book, God in Pain: Teaching Sermons on Suffering, preacher Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “We need a God who knows about pain. Anyone who has suffered through even one night of deep hurt knows what it is to beg for relief. Sometimes the prayer is answered and sometimes it is not, but those who have been there will often say that the strange, sweet presence of Christ in their suffering becomes dearer to them than the hope of recovery.”

In my own painful moments, like the night I stood before my newborn son as he fought for his life, my tears were my prayer. All I could manage to do was come before my God who knows about pain. It was the sweet presence of Christ in the ICU that assured me we were not alone.

How has prayer helped you with your pain? When your pain is too great, how do you find comfort? Please share with us.

Lord, have mercy and comfort us in our pain; let your sweet presence be close to us in our time of suffering.

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