This morning on social media someone had posted a happy-clappy worship song. A massive stadium full of young, shiny, fresh-faced worshippers held their arms to the sky and eyes closed as they enthusiastically sang the lyrics “There’s nothing that our God can’t do” along with the loud music, led by a charismatic and hipster-looking lead singer. And yet instead of being moved to praise, I found myself feeling angry. I turned it off. Filmed in January of 2020, mere weeks before CoVID began wreaking devastation worldwide, these young, fervent worshippers could not have known the devastation coming.
A few years ago, that would have been me – declaring aloud the praises and worship to ‘our God’, the God of the impossible. The God who heals cancer, delivers us from disaster, and moves every mountain. I thought that we were to be joyful – no matter what. I thought that when disaster struck, we were to declare in faith the promises of God of life and health. And God would come through. He would make things right! He would move that mountain, save us from sickness, create a way where there was none in sight. Right?
But this morning I just felt angry. So I took it to God, knowing that the God of the universe could handle my questions and my rage better than anyone.
How can I reconcile this song with present circumstances that I know of? What about when the ‘breakthrough’ does not come?
What about the car accident that claims the life of not only one, but two of your precious children while your third child is recovering from injuries?
What of the people and loved ones who are struggling to breathe on respirators in ICU with CoVID?
What of those friends battling cancer… some for the second time, and feeling fear, darkness… and a lack of hope?
And what of a son with an unexpected outcome of surgery who now lies paralyzed from the waist down?
God never promised to shield believers from bad things. In fact, He tells us so in his love story book to us: “…In this world you will have trouble…” says Jesus.
Gah. Today this feels like the understatement of the year.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, there are more tragic events that hit us in the gut daily. More news of pain and tragedy and heartache. Is it ok to be angry and sorrowful, about hard stuff? I believe that it is. If we look at Scripture, we see all manner of emotion, especially if we look at the book of Psalms.
This morning I lament. In the Psalms I read some pretty raw and honest words that express the pain and suffering of life on earth. I lament on behalf of those laid low by pain this week.
Using the words of Psalm 38, I pour out my sadness, anger and grief before God…
6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
12 Those who want to kill me set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they scheme and lie.
13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear,
like the mute, who cannot speak;
14 I have become like one who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.
15 Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me…
21 Lord, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior.
It is ok not to feel joyful and happy-clappy about life when the circumstances of life are laying you (too) low. The promises of God are big and bold but sometimes they don’t seem to line up.
This is what I know and this is what I can declare: God is good. God is not the one inflicting friends with cancer, causing car accidents and tragedy. Far from it. If you are going to lay blame anywhere, blame the great enemy of our souls, the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
So today I cling to the promise “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.” I pray this over all my friends; to those who are fighting, those who are grieving, to those who are struggling to breathe, and to those who are feeling the darkness more than the light.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? Ps. 13
If you are in the mood for a choral rendition of Psalm 13, composed by Henri Desmarets’ (1661-1741), give this a listen.