Do you allow yourself to grieve?
Some Christians push away feelings of sadness or anger, worried that those darker emotions indicate a lack of faith. It can certainly feel like God has abandoned us when we’re enduring emotional anguish so deep that we can feel it in our bones.
Think of the agony David was feeling when he wrote in Psalm 22, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” (14-15).
I like that the Bible never minimizes how severe our pain can feel in this life. I think that gives us permission to be authentic with God and with the people close to us about our struggles.
But Scripture is also clear that God never abandons us in our suffering. Later in Psalm 22, David writes this: “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him” (24).
We don’t often think of grief in this way, but it is a gift from God because it enables us to face the depth of our pain and, ultimately, find our most complete healing in Christ. The Bible calls it “lament.”
Author Esther Fleece describes lament as “an expression of grief that God meets you in.” As you’ll hear from her on our broadcast today, she didn’t find that definition in an old dusty theology book, she’s lived it.
Both of her parents abandoned her. Her father had a mental illness, and her mother was unable to devote herself to Esther because she never found answers for her own brokenness. Esther was orphaned spiritually, physically, and emotionally in her early teens.
Through it all, she discovered that God doesn’t leave lamenters to struggle alone. He brings His presence into the midst of people’s brokenness and draws Himself to those who are hurting and in need of His grace.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The Israelites lamented together in community. They cried out to God together. We don’t have to polish ourselves our overcome our difficulties first before we come to Him. God listens to our cries in the midst of our anguish.
At some point, every one of us will grapple with hard questions. “God, why is this happening to me?” “Are You as good as You say You are?” “Lord, I prayed for a different outcome. Why didn’t it come to pass?”
Today Esther will help us grapple with some of those hard questions. She’s a courageous young woman, and God has worked in her challenging circumstances since she was a little girl. You’ll hear her story and find encouragement for trusting God when you don’t hear the answers you thought you would.
Tune in for “Learning to Be Honest with God” on your local radio station, online, or on our free phone app.
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