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Psalms To Read On a Bad Day

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What do you like to do on a bad day? Do you reach for the ice cream or call a friend? Have you considered opening up your Bible?  Here are some Psalms to read on a bad day.

My daughter was having a rough day. I’m still not sure why, but she was extra emotional and kept struggling. I didn’t tell her to “deal with it” or to “just smile and be happy” — I want my children to have a healthy grasp on their emotions. So I sat down beside her and held her as she cried. No parent wants their child to suffer—but we know that it will happen, and when it does, we will journey through it with them.

God is the same.

He knows that we will face hard times, emotional days, and even suffering. I wonder if that’s why He gave us parts of the Bible that are filled with cries for help and lament.

The psalms are great for reading on days when you’re overwhelmed.

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

The psalms are great for reading on days when you’re overwhelmed. Those days when you’ve just had enough. Feelings can hit us hard (right!?) In the “Psalms of lament,” the writer is giving vent to how he feels. He may not know all the facts. Pain may have clouded his reason. These are not theological statements about God. We go to other parts of the Bible for our theology. These Psalms are about the writer’s personal experience.

These are not theological statements about God. We go to other parts of the Bible for our theology. These Psalms are about the writer’s personal experience.

Psalms to Read when you're having a bad day

 

Psalms to read …

  • When God seems far away or when your prayers aren’t answered. “How long . . ?” –  Psalm 13    
  • In times of serious illness or suffering – Psalm 6 
  • In times of failure – Psalm 44
  • When you didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to you – Psalm 26   
  • Those times you’ve done something you shouldn’t have done – Psalm 51   
  • When “darkness is my closest friend.” – Psalm 88   
  • When it seems that God has forsaken you. (Jesus prayed this Psalm on the cross). – Psalm 22   

Use this language to shape your cries out to God. Pray these psalms back to God in your own words.

 

Bring it to God

Something to note about the Psalms is that the laments often turn into prayers. You’ll also notice that sometimes the psalmist expresses his pain or struggle in a desire to allow God to shape his journey. Even in Psalm 88, where the psalmist has no hope, he still cries out to God.

God journeys through hard times with us. He’s given us words and poems to cry out to Him — and wants us to use hard times to shape us into the people He’s called us to be.

God journeys through hard times with us. He’s given us words and poems to cry out to Him — and wants us to use hard times to shape us into the people He’s called us to be.

Praise God, He never tells us to snap out of it or get a grip. Nor does He tell us we shouldn’t be feeling down, or that we should cheer up and tomorrow will be better. He acknowledges that our emotions are real. And if we’re feeling so angry that we could wish our enemies’ babies were dashed against the rocks (Psalm 137:9), He can take that too. (I wonder if that verse is there to show us there’s no limit to what He can take?)

Honestly connecting with God is much more healthy than bottling up your feelings, telling yourself that you hate God, or doing what we so easily do — taking it out on someone else.

 

David’s Secret to Success

If you know the life of David, you’ll know he consistently exercised restraint when he had the opportunity for revenge. Here’s his secret. He knew how to “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

So the next time you’re feeling angry, sad or frustrated — instead of turning on a sad song or eating a pint of ice cream — flip open a Psalm (or listen to one read aloud) and spend time in prayer (with ice cream, of course!).

 

Related Reading: Check out this podcast with Journey Women and Courtney Reissig,  How To Read the Psalms

© Scripture Union Canada, 2021

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