top of page
Healing the Deepest Agony
Part of what drives me in ministry and counseling is the appalling pain many people have. I, personally, have experienced several profoundly painful low places, making me feel eternally bonded to those who have likewise suffered. This article is especially for you beloveds.
At some point, we all experience some level of inner pain. Regardless, whatever your degree of familiarity with sorrow might be, the cruse of healing Oil will never run dry. This Oil is a soothing manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61:3 (YLT): ...the oil of joy instead of mourning...
Pain Submerged in Deep Waters
When we hurt, we tend to suppress the pain and escape through emotional "outlets". This quells the ache to a degree and for a time. The resulting predicament, though, is that the pain did not magically disappear into thin air. Rather, like dirt thrown into water, the pain simply sinks down into the deeper waters of our soul.
Secular psychologists did not pioneer the deep water illustration. The Holy Spirit did through King Solomon some three thousand years ago. He compared the soul to deep waters, and said there is important stuff submerged there.
Solomon writes in Proverbs 20:5 (NIV), The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
And again in 18:4 (YLT): Deep waters [are] the words of a man's mouth…
The deep water illustration is practical and memorable. There are many things in our soul-waters worth contemplating: all kinds of fish (various emotions), sharks (anger, aggression), dolphins (joy, playfulness), sunken ships (shipwrecked dreams), buried treasures (undiscovered talents or qualities), and on and on.
The Appointed Time of Healing
When God deems we are ready, He will allow or ordain "scuba divers" to bring up our submerged pain for processing and healing. In the language of Proverbs 20:5, sometimes the scuba diver is a person of sharp spiritual or emotional insight. Sometimes the scuba diver is a person God is sovereignly and unknowingly instrumentalizing to trigger our pain. Regardless of the persons and variables He chooses to use, in the appointed season the Lord will move to cleanse our waters. He will work intentionally and cleverly so that our submerged pain surfaces. Once it surfaces and our throat is filled with emotional vomit, it can be expressed to God in prayer and expelled from our soul.
Crying Out & Vomiting to God
When our deeper pain is triggered and surfaces at God's order, He is essentially giving us a redo. Why a redo? Because previously, we did not know how to properly and fully grieve. We suppressed and avoided negative feelings with determination. When God orders a redo, however, we are to take the surfaced pain captive and grieve it out to Him in prayer. In Biblical language this is called "crying out" or "pouring out"; I like to call it "vomiting in prayer". You will be stunned at how God responds to this kind of honest, raw, pain-filled crying out to Him, sometimes more than other forms of prayer.
Nothing changed in Israel's misery until they agonized directly to God about it. Exodus 2:23 and 3:7,8 tell us (NIV), The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God...The LORD said, "...I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers…So I have come down to rescue them…"
Nothing changed in Hannah's languishing heart until she vomited all that pain on the Lord. 1Samuel 1:10,15,16 (NIV): In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly...I was pouring out my soul to the LORD...I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.
Nothing changed in Jabez's pain-filled identity, past, and present until he threw himself sobbingly at God. 1Chronicles 4:9,10 (NIV): Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
Even Jesus, the perfect God-man, God incarnate, received no response from the Father until He cried out! Hebrew 5:7 (NIV): During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Peter continues the crying out/pouring out/vomiting in prayer theme, saying to Christians in 1Peter 5:7 (NIV): Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The Scariness of Vomiting in Prayer
I know, I know, no one likes vomiting. Grieving out pain to God can be scary. It feels like we will die. It is scary to feel so much pain all at one time. We feel out of control. We feel we are losing our minds.
Let me encourage you as one who has been through this cycle multiple times in thirty-plus years of born-again life--and has overcome to the other side. Let me encourage you as one who has walked with loved ones and counselees through this cycle multiple times--and watched them overcome to the other side too.
You will not die, that is just a feeling. Keep standing on and praying Psalm 118:17,18 (NASB): I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but He has not turned me over to death.
Yes, the pain might feel overwhelming, but an invisible Supervisor is controlling the pain level to be no more than you can take captive and grieve-pray at one time. He carefully calibrates the pain level of each crying out session. Yes, you might feel out of control, but that is just a feeling. The truth is, you are suffering in the palm of the Father and Son and you cannot be snatched out by any amount of pain (Jn 10:28,29).
Maybe you feel you are losing your mind. Every Christian I have ever known that learned how to vomit in prayer felt that way at one time or another. Beloved, it is exactly the opposite! Allowing old submerged pain to fester and subconsciously dictate your life is the real loss of mind! Allowing old submerged pain to fester and subconsciously dictate your life is actually what causes insanity! Letting God providentially trigger that pain, so it can be grieved out to Him and purged out of your soul, is the sanest, most coherent thing you have ever done. It will result in a very rare inner wholeness, very rare clean soul-waters. Few people have inner waters this clean. Very few. You will be one of them.
David, Our Vomiting Hero
I so treasure David because of his unusual courage. I do not mean courage to face Goliath or fight many men at once or brush death constantly. Even unsaved, atheist, pagan, or demonized soldiers can have that kind of courage. Rather, David wins my admiration because he always faced and processed his pain in the presence of God. No one cried out in prayer like David. No one. Not even Job.
David's father, mother, and brothers rejected him (Ps 27:10, 1Sam 17:28,29). His mentor sought to murder him and made him a national fugitive. His wife, the woman he loved and risked his life for, was given to another man while still being married to him (1Sam 25:44, 18:27). We could go on listing David's heartbreaks, headaches, and low points.
But David learned an undesirable secret to God's affections: grieving directly to Him. Few Christians and Bible students realize this was one of the ultimate reasons he won God over so unusually. Ponder the following sample of David crying out, and God's resultant intervention.
Psalm 6:2,3,6,8,9 (NIV): ...heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?...I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears...the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.
Psalm 31:7,9,10,22,23 (NIV): ...you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul...I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction...In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help...The LORD preserves those who are true to him…
Pouring Out the Soul, Pouring In Healing Oil
When deeper pain rises and exits our soul to God, healing Oil is poured in. This Oil is a soothing manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah said the Messiah would give us the oil of joy instead of mourning (Isa 61:3). One of the main ways this exchange happens is through the crying out prayer process, or its equivalent phrase, "pouring out the soul".
Scripture illustrates crying out to God as pouring out our soul, like emptying a container. Hannah said she was "pouring out my soul before the LORD" (1Sam 1:15 ESV). The sons of Korah said, "...as I pour out my soul…" (Ps 42:4 ESV). Peter used more direct vocabulary to refer to the same prayer mechanism; he tells us to cast all our anxiety on him (1Pet 5:7).
These verses are all saying our soul must be poured out to God in prayer first, then, in response, He pours in healing Oil to make that specific place whole. The more this pouring out-pouring in exchange happens, the more our soul becomes healed and pain-free.
God's Supervision & Shepherding of the Process
God is clever and masterful at getting to the places in our soul that need getting into. He is the captain of the scuba divers who probe and trigger our submerged pain. Only He is omniscient. Only He knows what is at the ocean floor of our deep waters. Only He knows the exact people and the exact situations that can bring up what needs to be brought up.
Because I am not omniscient, I have to trust my Father when He allows and ordains scuba divers to do this particular work. I have to trust Him utterly when triggering people and events are providentially steered onto my path. He is supervising and managing my inner healing. And yours. And all of His born-again children who let Him.
Trust Him by fully understanding the scuba divers' roles. Cry out and grieve directly to Him without holding back, until you sense the soothing Oil being poured in. Repeat this pouring out-pouring in cycle as often as necessary until God changes the season with a meaningful reward. Job 14:14 (NIV): …All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.
Other Methods of Healing
It is important to clarify that God heals and cleanses our inner waters in a plurality of ways. Seeking Him vulnerably is primary and foundational, but it is not the only way God accomplishes this inner transformation. God heals us through heartfelt knowledge of truth (Jn 8:32, 17:17, Ps 19:7), helpful relationships (Pr 13:20), honesty and prayer with other Christians (Jas 5:16), prayer and oil by the elders (v14), miracles (Job 5:8,9, Gal 3:5), and so on. The more avenues of inner healing you engage the faster and more comprehensive your healing will be.
bottom of page