For years I have believed that I didn’t have the right to question God. Questioning would only reveal my lack of faith, my lack of trust in his goodness and provision. Faith and trust, my faith and trust in him, I though would be best communicated through my silent, patient endurance.
Guys like Job and David have always perplexed me; I’ve never quite known what to do with them. Job said some pretty audacious things in his self-titled book. David made his fair share of unabashed complaints in the Psalms as well.
But I can let Job off the hook and agree that he has some valid points to stand on when he cried out and questioned God. Same with king David, sure he did some less-than-noble things; he did try to cover up his mess by killing someone, but I tend to give him an out too. After all he was King David, “a man after God’ own heart.”
The Art of Lamenting
Lamenting is something I never understood or really knew there was a place for. It seemed brazen and irreverent, after all, who am I to question the authority and sovereignty of God himself?
There are many days I don’t get it, I don’t necessarily agree with it (but who’s really asking if I do) and times that I straight up don’t like what is happening.
But I never knew it was ok to tell Him that.
Yes yes, I know, its not like he doesn’t already know what I really think about the matter. But I reasoned that by not verbalizing it to him, I am at least being respectful of his authority and honoring to him.
Read the Pslams and read Job sometime, it’s not light beach reading for sure, but its well worth the time and deliberation. These men wrestled deeply and questioned assertively in a way that there seems to be an art form to.
Their striking laments are comprised of carefully yet accurately articulated statements. Interestingly you'll find that line after line of find these poignant laments and bold questioning don’t stem from distrust or disbelief.
In their lamenting, these men questioned God from a place of belief, because of what they knew to be true of Him. Not out of disbelief.
Lamenting in the truest form is born out of deeply rooted trust.
He Can Take It
Any one who lives and breathes on this earth long enough will become well acquainted with grief. Losses that are insurmountable and depths of despair that nearly untellable.
Fresh waves grief seems to rip the newly formed scabs off, taking with it the new skin that has begun grown in the healing process at the most unforeseen moments in our lives.
The most often quoted passage from Job comes from the first chapter, where he stands in the aftermath of his home that has just been destroyed and in the wake of his children’s (yes children plural, as in all of them) death, from which is has hardly been long enough for rigor mortis to set in, and he blesses God.
‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job 1:21b)
Is he kidding?
I can’t quite get on board with that, but what I can get on board with is the next forty-something chapters where he goes on, lament after lament, grieving, pleading and wresting with what he believes about his God, what he knows to be true, and yet the ground where he stands as an empty and threadbare, shell of a man.
So what do we find in those forty something chapters that follow?
A God who can take it and a God who is there and willing to take it.
What About Me?
There are dozens of images, faces, and scenarios that come to mind when I think of appropriate and rightful times for lamenting.
Those left in the wake of grief after a tragic car wreck that claimed the life of a sweet friend.
Friends who know the depths of despair of infertility and the unrelenting pain of miscarriage after miscarriage.
The faces of the kids we hold as they die and the families we grieve with when a terminal diagnosis are given to their most beloved.
In the same way we awkwardly fumble our words around to one another in the wake of grief and in despairing circumstances, I find the same to be true when I try to take it up with God
What are you supposed to say to Him that’s honest yet respectful while confessing your beliefs despite unimaginable pain?
This dilemma is so perplexing that I default to saying nothing to him.
But He can take it.
He can take your ripped open and raw, sobbing screams, pleading and asking ‘how long O Lord, how long will you wait!?’
Arms To Hold You
There have been days, more often recently than not, that I can barely bring myself to speak to God.
I don’t know what to say to Him that I haven’t already told him.
I don’t know what to ask for that I haven’t asked for a hundred times already.
I don’t know what more of his attributes (goodness, faithfulness, loving-kindness, patience, gentleness etc.) that I can confess to be true.
There comes a point when you don’t know what else to say to Him. So what then?
He just holds you.
You find a God who wraps you in his arms when you are too empty to cry any more tears and too broken to hope that you can be healed.
Until we’ve lamented, we can’t quite get there.
We don’t fully know the truth about who He is until we have told him how we think it really is.
We don’t know the comfort of the arms that will hold us until we have been emptied of all we have and all we are.
But He can take it, and He will hold you.