If you read the Book of Psalms you will come to realize that about one third of them contain an expression of sorrow or complaint!
Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10 NLT
I think that those of us who have reached and exceed the age of our maker’s contract (see Psalm 90 above) soon become aware of, and are sobered by, how many of our contemporaries are experiencing pain and trouble or are flying away!
These expressions of sorrow or complaint are usually categorized as “laments”.
Not only do one-third of the psalms fall into this category, but there is a whole book in the Old Testament entitled “Lamentations” which tells me that God welcomes these kinds of prayers from His children.
In fact, it seems they’re an essential component of communication with the Lord, just like praise, worship, confession, and intercession. Our cries may be full of ache, anger, and confusion, but the One who made us isn’t surprised or offended by our messy, unfiltered words and emotions. Quite the contrary, He welcomes them so He can demonstrate His care and concern for us!
I have recently had the experience of several friends and acquaintances leaving this earth for their eternal reward along with many others experiencing debilitating infirmities. The sense of loss aside, their unavailability leads to complications and inconveniences in our lives as we have to find other resources to substitute for the irreplaceable.
Inevitably we trot out the “why?” questions for God — why now?, why him/her?, why me/us?
Many scholars believe that Psalms 42 and 43 were at one time a single song. In these two chapters, we find lament interspersed with a refrain that occurs three times:
“Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him for the help of His presence, my God” (Ps. 42:5; Ps. 42:11; Ps. 43:5).
After a painful, real recounting of his circumstances, the psalmist includes this repeated chorus that preaches God’s truths to our heart and encourages us to hope in Him. It’s a reminder that we can honestly tell the Lord about our circumstances—and that trusting Him is a choice we can make, even during our darkest days.
Repeatedly in my lamentations I hear the words of a contemporary song that says:
“You have turned my mourning into dancing, Lord And my lips are filled with your praise”
These words are just a paraphrase of the only words we have recorded that Jesus read to the congregation in his local synagogue:
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3 NLT
May I suggest that, like the Psalmist in Psalms 42 & 43, you just go ahead and express your complaints and frustrations, raw and unvarnished, to the Lord. But then like the Psalmist, remind yourself that God’s intent is that you should be a beautiful, joyful, praising expression of His glory, and he will make it so once you cast your cares on Him.
As Jesus’ friend and follower Peter tells us:
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
And the last word, as always, goes to Jesus Himself:
“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 NLT
May you find joy in the direst of circumstances!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://www.salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/?category=Bible%20Study