Every Sunday at our church, whoever is the preaching pastor, writes up a follow up devotional for some additional study and reflection. Here is my last sermon and the devotional. Enjoy!!
ENCOUNTER: Read Psalm 22
I know I just preached a sermon where I pushed a little hard to get over your disappointment with God for not coming through in ways you hoped or desired. In fact, I even went as far as to say that if you have disappointment with God, then the story you are using to inform your faith is too "you" centric, and not properly Jesus centric.
While that may be true in a theological paper, we are human being with a wide range of emotions that impact our complex relational interactions. And our walk with Jesus is no exception. Again, that is why I love the whole counsel of scripture. We not only have some hard teaching from Jesus, but we also get a peek into the prayer journal for the people of God, the psalms. And many of the Psalms are prayers of lament. Lament is an expression of sorrow or regret. And Psalm 22 is a model of this sort of prayer. Many commentators have divided this Psalm into four parts, and this is a helpful map for our prayers towards God, especially when we are in a season of lament or disappointment.
“My God, my God” (v. 1).
“Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. . . . My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (vv. 1-2, 15).
“Lord, do not be far from me. . . . Come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen” (vv. 19-21).
Expression of trust
“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. . . . Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me feel secure on my mother’s breast. . . . I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly, I will praise you. . . . For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (vv. 3-4, 9, 22, 24).
For me, I often skip right over the complaint and the request because I long to have good theology and live in the expression of trust. But doing this often means we miss out on some of the best parts of being a Christian, and that is the intimate friendship that we can have with God through Jesus Christ. We are allowed to come, fully and totally to God and express our joys and concerns. And when we get to be honest with our complaints and our requests, we have an opportunity to be heard and ministered to by God in ways we never knew possible if we try to simply live in our head and force ourselves into just the expression of trust.
WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY:
Instead of the normal questions for reflection, why not simply find a quiet spot with some paper and pen, and have it out with God. Write down these four sections and then fill in the blanks with your true heart and desires. Lament is not a lack of faith, but is often an even bigger expression of it!
May God meet you in this exercise and continue to deepen your strands of love and devotion towards Jesus and back again to you.