Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day Twenty-Six: Exclamation

The WORD of the Day:

"In my anguish I cried out to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper..." --Psalm 118:5-7

"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit."  
--Psalm 34:17-18

Let Me Give You a Lift:

Ever find yourself so angry/upset/hurt/confused/overwhelmed that you just want to scream? Ever find yourself directing all those emotions, and that strong desire to scream toward God? Ever been told there is absolutely nothing wrong with that? Expressing yourself to God, I mean? 

I grew up always kind of feeling like if I gave voice to my frustrations God might smite me on the spot.  But you know what? That was not giving God enough credit.  He made me, emotions and all. God knows all of our thoughts even if we don't voice them. I now think it is better to be authentic in bringing my upset, confusion, and frustration to God rather than offering Him superficial praises when that's not what is on my heart.  Why do I believe this? Because many great people of faith have had this kind of frank conversation with God.

Abraham questioned God concerning Sodom and Gomorrah; Moses told God he was too afraid to speak for Israel before Pharaoh. Both of these men were great servants for God, and obeyed Him, but that doesn't mean they were never worried, scared, or confused. Nearly half of the 41 chapters in the book of Job involve Job anguishing, angry, and questioning God! C.S. Lewis wrote an entire book (A Grief Observed) about working through his anger with God after his beloved wife died of cancer.

But perhaps the best example of a person pouring out their aching heart to God is Jesus himself.  When Jesus was in the Garden on the night he was taken away to be crucified, His prayers to God were filled with sorrow. The Bible says:
"He fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'" 
Jesus was not shy in letting his Father hear the sorrow he felt about the task ahead. And when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the Bible says
Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Having taken on the world's sin, Jesus feels separation from God for the first time, and cannot contain His sorrow.  Here, Jesus chose His words carefully, quoting from a Psalm written by His ancestor David 1,000 years before. It is a Psalm that foretells the Messiah's anguish, and anguish is precisely what the words would have evoked in the mind of any learned hearer.  Jesus knew God's plan, and accepted it, yet in the moment it was simply too much to bear alone, He cried out to His Father.

I think it is important to remember that the Bible also says that "in every respect [Jesus] has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."  Hear that? It is not sinful to express ourselves to God; quite the opposite. God wants to hear from us when we are joyous and praising him, when we are angry and questioning him, when we are hurting, when we are confused, and when we are at a total loss. All those things are part and parcel to an authentic relationship, which is what God wants from us.

God is not offended by what we are going through; feelings are part of being the humans God made us. If you feel like screaming or crying, journaling, hiding under your desk (not that I would know anything about that...) or just babbling incoherently then do it.  Sometimes clarity of perspective only comes on the other side of catharsis. ("I cried out...and he answered by setting me free..."). God did that on purpose because He knows that working through our emotions is necessary to our healing. So feel your feelings.

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is “Need You Now” by Plumb. This song is about crying out to the Lord when you just can't take it.  It's the kind of song you crank up loud and sing along to.  And if you like her Evanescence-esque sound, she has a really beautiful album of lullabies you should check out.

No comments:

Post a Comment