Lamenting is not something that we like to do. Lamenting is not something that comes naturally to us. But, when we are faced with a pain, a grief, a heartache that reaches into our soul, it is what we must do.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Every once in a while you come face to face with a brokenness that overwhelms you. It seems that lately this has been the case more than not. I look around and people are not being healed, they are losing jobs, they are experiencing death.
This all sucks.
I know, I know, I’m a pastor and my Mimi would be mad that I just used the “s-word.” But, you know what, it does suck.
That’s the truth of the matter.
The brokenness of this world is overwhelming at times. I am so mad and frustrated with it. I wish God would simply do what I want him to do. When I pray for him to heal someone, I want him to do that. When I ask him to save a marriage, I want him to do that. Every once in a while, I want him to supersede the secondary causes of human sin, frailty, and brokenness to make this world how I want it.
He’s sovereign and good I remind myself. But, dang it sure does not feel that way at times. Not even a little. I don’t really doubt his goodness, but there are times when I wonder if he really does have control of this ball of dust.
Intellectually, I know he does.
Intellectually, I know that everything has purpose.
Today, as I drink my coffee, it doesn’t feel like it at all.
Emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook statuses, they all point to something else.
Even now, I am thinking about all the times God has responded. All the times when it made no sense for something to happen apart from God’s miraculous intervention. That makes me smile.
A few years ago my son said, “Dad, if I need something important to happen, I am asking the church to pray. God listens to our church and does stuff.”
It doesn’t feel that way this morning. But, I know it to be true. Me and God have history. But, I have a short memory.
“When my heart was grieved and
my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:21–26
I am still in the, “I was senseless and ignorant” stage. I am working my way toward the “Whom have I in heaven but you?” stage.
Even so, God can handle me saying, “This sucks.”
As you can probably tell, when I need to lament, I turn to the Psalms. More and more of that time is spent in Eugene Peterson’s, The Message. He gives words to my soul. Today it is Psalm 77 and it’s all I got.
I yell out to my God,
I yell with all my might,
I yell at the top of my lungs.
I found myself in trouble
and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.
When friends said,
“Everything will turn out all right,”
I didn’t believe a word they said.
I remember God — and shake my head.
I bow my head — then wring my hands.
I’m awake all night — not a wink of sleep;
I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
“Just my luck,” I said.
“The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him.”
Once again I’ll go over what GOD has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do —
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.
Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep.” (Psalm 77, The Message)