You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak. (Psalm 77:4)
At the worst times in my illness, I’ve been unable to sleep at nights. I’ve lain awake listening to the radio, looking for something to soothe my mind such that I might drift off to sleep. If you were to ask me what my trouble was, I would not be able to put it into words. Generalized anxiety they call it. It’s a vague sense that something is not right and nothing I can do will make it better.
You might wonder just what the Psalmist gains by expressing here what cannot be expressed. What good does it do simply to identify that “I was too troubled to speak”?
It’s hard to say. Like the experience itself, it’s difficult to put into words. But acknowledging there is a problem is the first step toward healing. God hears these unspoken prayers and, in good time, brings relief.
The Apostle Paul was a man with much to say, most of the time, but even he had occasions where he is speechless. In talking about prayer, he writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26, NRSV)
Sometimes our most profound and intimate prayers cannot be put into words. Instead, we sigh. We groan. And God knows just what we are talking about and gives us what we most need.