“My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts…” – Psalm 57:4
I’ve been reading through the Psalms lately, and needless to say, I have really been enjoying myself. Scripture is so rich and full of life and encouraging and real.
Real as in, honest, gut-level, hold-nothing-back, reality.
Real as in, the people that do the writing and speaking, pour out their hearts and emotions before God and us all.
I take solace in that.
But I’m curious as to why many believers seemingly overlook this attribute of Scripture?
Let me explain what I mean.
Two years ago, my family and I went through a situation that was (at the time) the hardest thing we’d ever experienced in our lives. We were broken. Sad. Angry. Hurt. Confused. It goes without saying, but we weren’t walking around all-smiles. The wind had been knocked out of our sails.
It opened our eyes to a reality that we didn’t understand because we had always thought (and had been taught) that if we were obeying God, nothing would ever go wrong. Being Christians meant we’d never face difficulty. And if we did face difficulty, we’d be happy-go-lucky all the way through (or at least we should be).
Boy have we had to undo some stinkin’ thinkin’.
During that season, we had many that gathered around us and supported us and cared for us. They put into practice Scripture’s mandate to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
Yet even so, there were a few who responded with nice cliches and attempted to placate us. I totally realize everyone does not always know what to say in a time of difficulty. The issue I have is the impression that they gave was that as Christians, we weren’t allowed to be sad or grieve or struggle with our faith and God. Their implied solution was that we were to suck it up and keep going.
Since that time, I’ve encountered other believers (many!) who have had similar experiences. They had been in a dark season (for whatever reason) and instead of fellow believers coming along side of them and mourning with them, their grief was overrun and were basically told to get over it. These followers of Christ, fellow brothers and sisters, have been greatly wounded by this candy-coated religion.
When we find ourselves in dark seasons, we don’t necessarily need people to fix our problems as much as we need a shoulder to cry on (just ask Job). We don’t need solutions as much as we need empathy. Sure anyone can abuse this and get stuck in a downspiral of self-pity. But we all have a God-given emotion of grief that we need to be able to process through in our own time.
The connection all of this has with the Psalms is that it’s clear that David had many of these dark moments/seasons as well. And he was very real with God and those around him. And God is apparently OK with that.
To deny that, we’d have to rip out a good one-third of the Psalms!
With all of this in mind, it is important to understand that as we read through the Psalms, we see David didn’t just sit in his misery. For the most part, each of the dark psalms did end with him encouraging himself in the Lord and worshipping God. But it wasn’t necessarily immediate and it wasn’t without first wrestling with his faith and completely bearing his soul for all of us to see.
So the next time you find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death, or in the midst of lions, allow yourself time to process it before God. And let’s give others the same freedom and grace… and maybe a shoulder to cry on.
There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” – Eccl 3:4