One of the more surprising parts of the Bible (to me) are the Psalms of lament. This is surprising because when most people think of godly men and women we think of exemplary men and women of faith who rarely struggled with doubts or frustrations.
Consider the opening verse of Psalm 74:
O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
I don’t hear those kinds of prayers too often. In fact, the Psalms of Lament represent 5% of the entire book of Psalms, but 0% of the church gatherings I’ve been to in my lifetime.
Lamentations is a poetic book of lament written by Jeremiah during the siege on Jerusalem. The people of Israel have turned away from God and their punishment is just, but it does not make the circumstances any easier to face. As they take on this battle Jeremiah thrusts his frustration right into God’s face, saying: “I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord'”” (Lam. 3:17-18).
Clearly there is something for us to learn here. Often when I see people turn away from God it has much more to do with a lack of honesty with God. Frustrated with God? Better keep quiet. Struggling with temptation? Giving into temptation? Better not go to church. That’s the line of thinking that leads toward self-inflicted alienation from God.
Often the killer of spiritual vitality is silence, not sin. (tweet this?)
Obviously sin creates a barrier between us and God. We see this so clearly in Genesis 3 as Adam and Eve immediately hide from God as He approaches them. But it’s our response that alienates us all the more, not just the initial sin.
The Psalms of Lament and various other faithful individuals highlighted in Scripture, teach us to come to God with all that we are, not hiding anything. The doubts. The frustrations. The pain. The joys. God responds to that, not the person who would rather shield themselves, worrying about how God will respond.
(Photo: Nathan Wirth)