Yelling At God..He Can Handle It

(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)

Psalm 102

arguing-with-godProbably written sometime during or around the time of the exile, Psalm 102 is what is known as a lament, a writing that is meant to express deep sorrow regarding a certain situation or event by the individual who wrote it. It is a prayer or expression of one who is afflicted and is asserting his grief towards God. Generally, laments that are found in Jeremiah, Job, and Lamentations follow a similar structure to those found in Psalms. This suggests that the writers of laments in the Old Testament follow a commonly known pattern of writing in their day, much like we follow a pattern of writing to compose a letter written today. It is many times easy for us to understand and identify with the author’s suffering. But what is important is that we walk away with an understanding of the solution to the problem presented in a lament.

What we have in Psalm 102 is a man who seems to have the symptoms of depression, or is going through some sort of hardship. However, we can understand a lot of how this psalmist is feeling and thinking from verses 9-10. He states that he feels that the source of his mourning arises due to God’s wrath being against him. This is a similar theme that can be seen prominently in both Jeremiah as well as Job (although sometimes misunderstood by these men). The idea that these heroes of the faith viewed God as their enemy or as being against them at certain points of their lives and ministries is very contrary to how many view God in the church today. We think that that could never happen, and that a true man of God would never question or feel that way towards God. Well, the truth is that many great men of God have indeed felt that way towards God. Right here in the Bible we see men who shaped the course of God’s people for the sake of God’s purposes express their frustration and anger towards God during the course of their mission and lives. Interestingly, we feel the need to shun this type of expression, be it around other Christians, or around God. But the truth is that God desires to hear about our frustrations because He wants to hear our hearts.

We use many parts of the Bible, Old and New Testament, in church, in preaching sermons, and in our daily lives. But how much do we use the laments in the Bible? After all they are in the Bible, so naturally we should view them as God ordained. Many times we try and put a positive spin on seemingly negative portions of the Bible, or we ignore them altogether. This is why many are so unfamiliar with laments, and unable to reconcile the negativity and frustration that they feel. It’s easy to sing a modern worship song that is based on a Psalm that glorifies God in a positive way. But what about the less happy parts of the Psalms? How do we incorporate that into our lives, into church, or into sermons?

The life of the Christian is a life that is marked by sacrifice and many times suffering. We as the church need to understand that the walk of the Christian is not all peaches and roses. It many times means facing the fire of a crucible that the Lord intends for us to walk through. Other times it consists of facing hardships that seem completely unexplainable. No matter what the cause of hardships are in our life we can understand that God’s purpose is intertwined through our entire lives as Christians.

Interestingly the last few verses in this Psalm (25-28) are seen in Hebrews 1:8-12 where it there has a reference to Christ. Its clear that the author of Hebrews saw this psalm to be a reference to Jesus, and that the suffering found in it to be the suffering that He faced. Undoubtedly this serves to give us hope. Knowing the background of Psalm 102, and the suffering that this Psalmist faced, we can know that the reference to Christ via this Psalm in Hebrews 1 shows that Christ understands our suffering. Moreover that He faced much of the same suffering Himself. When faced with the task of being crucified Jesus was completely honest with the Father in Matthew 26:39: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He showed His very real feelings towards what He was facing, but He chose to press on and submit even His own will to God and face suffering. This is what God desires, for us to face the path that He has laid out in front of us willingly.

Subsequently, if we can learn anything from the heroes of old its that the path laid out before us is not meant to be walked down like a robot who ignores the realities that are inevitably going to happen. God desires our heart. He wants to now us and for us to know Him. He died for it. So know Him. Express how you feel towards Him in honesty. He knows what you are thinking and feeling anyways, so why not include Him in on it? We have a tendency to think of God as an abstract and untouchable thing that is out there somewhere. But He is actually a living being who has a personality, likes, dislikes, humor, anger and a whole slew of other things.

However, His central attribute is Holiness, and as such sin cannot be in His presence. That is why Christ died: to bridge the gap. So since we have this God who wants us to know Him, and wants to know us, let’s jump into Him and seek after Him with all of our hearts. This does not mean that we throw reverence out the window. He is Lord, and as such we should submit to Him. But He is our Lord who intimately wants to be in a relationship with us. The story of the Bible is the story of a Holy God who relentlessly pursues a stubborn and sinful people. So allow Him to be Lord, and I guarantee you He will open you up to who He is: Holy, Love, and Lord.

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