“…regardless of what prayer or plea anyone among all your people Isra’el makes — for each individual will know his own plague and his own pain — and the person spreads out his hands toward this house; then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive; also, since you know what is in each one’s heart, give each person what his conduct deserves (because you, and only you, know human hearts)” (2 Chronicles 6:29-30 CJB)
Last week, sitting in on my colleague’s class on ‘Encountering the Old Testament,’ I was reminded just how poetic the underlying Hebrew texts of the Talmud, Writings and Prophets often are. While our translations into English are perfectly accurate, they do not always capture that poeticism. This morning, as my quiet time delved into 2 Chronicles (Divrei-Hayamim Bet) in the Complete Jewish Bible translation (CJB), one section caught the lyrical feel of the Hebrew so well. Whatever “prayer or plea” (kal tefillah/khal techinnah) anyone makes, God will hear and respond. What an enormous encouragement that alone is to know: that our every prayer and plea is heard by our Lord. But it was the following phrase that really warmed my soul this morning and brought comfort. The lyricism of the Hebrew is not so apparent to our ears, but it is there and the CJB translation captures it well when it reads that “each individual will know his own plague and his own pain” (nega and makob in the Hebrew).
Have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, “No-one knows what I’m going through right now”, “None among family and friends know how much this hurts and none could cope with hearing this”, “No-one grasps how deep this pain is”, “Every breath I take is pain, and every waking moment is torture”, “This is pain beyond words”, “This is beyond what I can endure”, “I don’t deserve this plague, this pain”?
Only I know my own plague and pain. Only you know your own plague and pain. But now, together, we know that our plague and pain can be “spread out” before Him: literally, it can be dumped unfiltered, unresolved, raw and messy from our hands into His hands. And He does know: He knows our plague and our pain, and He is willing to carry them with us.
Do not struggle on alone, precious one. Turn your own plague and pain into prayer and plea, sweet soul. Watch for those locked into their own plague and pain, for those unable and afraid to let you share their burden, for those who are overwhelmed. Spread out your hands to God for them.