The Three Letter Word to Pray When Life Sucks

Lemons are easy, but what happens when life throws you darts?

What do you do when life sucks? Well, I’ve heard it said, when life throws you lemons, make lemonade. But what happens when life throws you darts? What do you make of it, then? A dartboard? Yeah, that feels lovely… Abandoned. Ever been there? Betrayed. Ever been there? Ignored. Ever been there? Insulted. Ever been there?

The Three Letter Word to Pray When Life Sucks

Like being stuck in the line of a dreadful carnival ride with nowhere to go but on, sometimes life can feel terrible. The lump in your throat grows ever larger as your turn on the ride gets closer. You know what is coming, but it’s as if the wall was not built on the border, but around you, keeping you on track to your nauseous demise.

The Three Letter Word to Pray When Life Sucks

Life can move at a thousand miles an hour. Around and around it goes. In a blink of an eye, everything that once was the norm is now a distant memory. In the blink of an eye, relationships – even the closest ones, the ones that are supposed to last forever – are strained, forgotten, and remembered with tears. In a split second, decisions can drive a wedge between loved ones.

What do you do when life sucks?

Do you go to God in prayer? If you do, then that’s great! But what do you pray about? Do you just get your troubles off your chest and throw up an amen?

That’s the easy route. It’s the well-traveled route. It’s the path that keeps you in your immediate reality while ignoring the broader story.

It’s the place I like to stay.

I’ve always worn my emotions on my sleeve. And that’s okay, I suppose. But it’s not okay for me to stay in that place. To stay in the place of my immediate reality while ignoring the broader story is delusion. Yeah. I guess that’s where I stay many times when life sucks. I live in the delusion that what’s before me is the end of the story.

But… Yes, that’s the word.

Three Letters to Pray

But.

It’s a powerful word – especially when life sucks. It’s so small, but it packs a big punch. It has the power to take you in a completely different direction. It has the power equivalent to the railroad switch. With one pull or push, the word “but” has the power to take the weight of your life and push it into a different direction.

But what?

My life sucks right now, but I know that you, God, love me and care for me.

Just look at what King David said in Psalm 13 (emphasis mine):

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The first four verses of David’s psalm appears to be my life sucks and you don’t seem to care, God, but then he throws in that powerful “but” in verse 5. Then everything changes.

David points himself back to the fact that he has and continues to trust in God’s love for him, in the Lord’s salvation, and because of this he chooses to praise God and declare that he has been dealt with bountifully by God.

David flipped the script on his immediate reality by pointing to God’s broader story

This isn’t easy and it necessitates a prior belief in the goodness of God, but it can be done. It’s a reminder I need everyday, especially when life sucks (or seems to). Because in the broadest reality, this life is a gift. Every breath I breathe is a blessing from the Lord. Every step I take is a declaration of God’s love for me. I don’t have to exist. None of this needs to exist. This country, this world, this galaxy, this Universe, none of it needs to exist. No. Every moment it does is a resounding declaration that God loves us.

So the next time life sucks, take a moment and declare a three letter word – but.

Brandon is the Spiritual Development Pastor at The Crossing, a church plant on the east side of Cincinnati. He is the author of Crucified to Life and Preaching Sticky Sermons. His passion is helping people discover hope and transformation in Christ. He & his wife, Sara & their daughters, Kairea & Piper, live on the east side of Cincinnati with their two dogs.

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