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April 4-- "Anger and Frustration: Learning to Lament

Devotion – Saturday April 4th – “Express Yourself – using the Lament” In the last week or so, I have been feeling moments of anger and frustration. In talking to others (via phone, email, etc), I have found that I’m not alone. Speaking only for myself, my frustration and anger is over this entire situation. I want to go and visit people. I want to bring Holy Communion to our shut ins. I want my now 5 minute walk to the post office to go back to the 30 minutes it used to take me, because of my stops along the way to talk with people. I want to go out to a restaurant and have a meal. I want to be able to worship with my faith community where we had so many good plans for the Holy Week observance of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Most of all, I want people to be safe and well. As I think about all of this, I get angry and frustrated, because none of this is possible right now. So, I look up to heaven and ask the universal question, “Why God?” Is it alright for me (and you) to be frustrated and angry over the situation? The answer is yes, in fact, it is normal. Is it wrong to look to God and ask, “why?” No, it is not. But now the tougher question: Is it alright to tell God we’re angry and frustrated with the whole situation AND at Him, right now? The answer is yes, it is alright. There is an entire history of people calling up their frustrations/anger to and at God. These writings are called “Laments.” Laments are most prominently found in the Book of Psalms. Let me share one of them with you, Psalm 13. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken ... (Ellipses mine) ... But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” In this psalm the writer feels like God has abandoned him, and he expresses this feeling to God. The Psalmist doesn’t hide nor hold back his feelings. He goes on to tell God that he’s also tired of the fact that his enemies continue to flourish while he, a faithful follower, is beaten up. Yes, it is alright to share any feelings you are having, with God. You don’t have to hold anything back. God in fact, wants you to share ALL your feelings with him. God has broad shoulders and can handle our laments of frustration and anger. But there is a second part to the Laments, and that is: we have to continue to share our laments until we get an answer. Maybe the answer will come in the form of a healing, a rescue, maybe it’s a new understanding of the situation; whatever it is, somewhere along the line, after wrestling with God, an answer will come. In the case of Psalm 13 this resolution happens between verses 4 and 5 (where I put the ellipses). After a time of struggling with God (was it days, weeks, months? We don’t know), the lamenter gets his answer. He finds after the struggle that God is present and will help him in his time of need. Almost all the lament psalms end with a declaration that they are ready now ready to lift up their voices in praise and adoration to God. Is it alright to share your anger and frustration with God right now? Absolutely. And keep on wrestling with God, until you get an answer. And know this: It will be a glorious wrestling match! God bless you all, Dan

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