By Nathan Mark
Think about the most difficult thing you have ever had to endure: A divorce, the death of a loved one, a season of unemployment, or worse. Did you feel you could talk to God about it? When you came to church, did you feel connected to God by the worship? Or did you feel disconnected and alone?
The reason I ask these questions is that something has been bothering me for awhile. Last year I used many Psalms as the basis for worship themes, and one thing I noticed is the large number of laments in the Psalms. Literally 70 percent of the Psalms contain lamenting (or mourning) language. I decided I wanted to do a service on lamenting, and I was very surprised to find that there are very, very few worship songs that are laments.
This brought me to take a closer look at the Church in general in this area. As I listened to Christian radio, I couldn’t help but feel a disconnect. Over and over I heard the words, “positive and uplifting” or “uplifting and kid-safe.” I felt like I was listening to Disneyland Radio because it was “happy all the time.” As I tried to think of regularly used worship songs in the church that are laments, I only needed one hand to count. I thought about my own planning of services and the lack of laments.
But if 70 percent of the Psalms are laments, that should tell us something about life and how hard it is. David, the one man in history who is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” said to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13). And it’s not just Psalm 13 which speaks like this — it’s literally 70 percent of the Psalms!
This should tell us something: It is okay to be weak. It is okay to not have it all put together. It is okay to cry out to God. It is okay to be so upset that you feel like you can’t even pray. In Psalm 77, David talks about being so upset he cannot speak. Have you ever been there? I know I have.
When you look at the life of David, it is clear that very few men have had such a close relationship with God. What characterizes David’s relationship with God? Brutal honesty. David tells God exactly how he feels. He tells God when he feels alone. He tells God when he feels like God has turned His back on him.
But there is one other thing that characterizes David’s relationship with God. While being brutally honest with God in how he felt, he always moved on to remembering the faithfulness of God. Psalm 77 is a perfect example of this. David spends the first half of the chapter crying out to God in his distress, but in verse 10 the whole chapter shifts. He then says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles long ago.” David continues on to list off the amazing things God had done in the history of His people.
This life can be brutal and it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to be upset, and it’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel. That is exactly what He wants from us. It’s okay for a time, as long as that is not where we stay. We also need to remember. We need to do what David did over and over in the Psalms: Lament, weep, and cry out to God, but then take time to remember His faithfulness.