This week’s scripture is:
Let my prayer come to You. Listen to my cry. For my soul is filled with troubles. And my life comes near the grave. –Psalm 88:2-3
In another translation “the grave” is replaced with Sheol. I’ve heard of Sheol referred to Sheol Hades which is hell and if you read the whole passage it seems to fit. Upon further research, I decided to read the psalm before and after this one to give it greater context but couldn’t figure it out. The previous and next psalms are both passages that praise God so why would this solemn one but stuck in between the two?
So here’s what I found:
Within the psalms there is a type called of psalm called lament. Lament is a passionate expression of grief, sorrow or mourning and it’s actually one of the largest categories of the psalms. By in large, the average Christian doesn’t know that. We typically think that the psalms are all about praising God but depending on who’s counting there’s between 65-67 of the 150 in total.
There is a structure that all psalms of lament follow. They contain 1) an address to God, 2) the raising of complaints and/or petitions to God, 3) a confession of trust in God, and finally 4) a promise to praise God once He comes through. In some respects, psalms of lament are how some issue fox-hole prayers: “God, shit just got real. I need Your help. Even though the situation looks bleak, I know You got my back. Thank You in advance. I owe You one.”All psalms of lament follow this basis structure. All of them contain a petitioned problem but end in pronounced praise. All of them. Except Psalm 88. It is the only psalm without a turn toward hope, praise, or promises to God. -A Game for Good Christians (https://www.agameforgoodchristians.com/blog/god-causing-all-of-your-problems)
I’m grateful that I serve a God that I can be honest with. I can tell Him exactly what is plaguing me and it doesn’t have to be sweet, clean or wrapped up in a bow. I didn’t grow up in church so a lot of the church culture is lost in me. I’m who I am. I don’t fake or pretend. My story is flawed. I didn’t accept Christ and that was it, sold out until kingdom come. To often this is the picture new Christians get and maybe it’s true for some people but for others it’s not that cut and dry.
There’s things in my life that I’m not proud of. I’ve backslidden, I’ve had one foot in and one foot out, I’ve struggled with giving my tithes at one point (I give them cheerful now, thank God), I’ve been tempted, I’ve had sex and have masterbated all while loving God. These are all issues of my past. I’m not glorifying these actions at all; in fact, for a long time I tried hiding them but then I got tired of the weight of it all. You cannot lift holy hands to a righteous God and they be weighted with the cares of life and think that it’s okay. It’s unacceptable. God is loving and kind but He doesn’t put up with foolishness and blatant sin. Just like us, He demands respect and a lot of time we offer Him anything and expect Him to bless it.
I was convicted but not condemned. I’ve even been guilty of falling back into some of these issues at different times in my walk but I’m so grateful that haven’t stayed there. I had to fight for my freedom. I’m not perfect but I don’t use that as an excuse. But above everything, what I love most about God is that even in my worse, He can take me being real with Him, so I speak with Him honestly. He can handle my depression, anxiety, irritation, my complaints, laziness, frustrations and even when I’m overwhelmed with the very things that I truly struggle with. He is there, not ready to judge and send me to hell but to be a confidant. He gives loving wisdom and guidance and is ready to pardon our sin. Unfortunately, too often we condemn ourselves and blame God for being a harsh judge. We must learn to trust Him and choose change, even if the choice has to be made frequently. The first step is presenting it to Him. I don’t hide my hand from Him, I give my heart to Him.
Just as I pointed out previously, one of the problems I have with the church is their representation of perfection but I also have an issue with the world and its excuses to stay the same and efforts to make everyone feel that it’s acceptable. The whole “God knows my heart” spill is a cop out for not wanting to take responsibility and an excuse to continue to do what they want and just because people are “good” doesn’t mean that they go to heaven or just because they live like everyone else that they aren’t wrong. God sets the standard, not us and us includes Beyonce and Oprah (cause everyone acts like they are the end all be all) don’t get me wrong, I respect them but they are human just like the rest of us.
God offers relationship. Isn’t it amazing that the Creator of the Universe wants to be connected to me? Everything in a relationship isn’t always squeaky clean. It’s filled with tough times that may challenge us but it’s also extremely rewarding. I’m not perfect but somehow and for some reason God chose me and even when things seem like they are at their worst I’ve never used my relationship with Him as a get outta jail free card. I’ve still had to deal with the consequences of my actions, I’ve still had to earn His trust again, I’ve still had to not just apologize, but sometimes change my ways; not outta fear but because it was worth it and I understood the value of it. I had to value the relationship more than how I felt. I’ve had to give up bad habits and communicate. I’ve had to talk about things that I haven’t wanted to talk about and do things I didn’t want to do when I didn’t want to do them because that’s what you do for someone you love.
If you are having a hard time sharing your hurts and hard feelings with God the Weekly Prayer Project suggests that you list some things that causes you to feel overwhelmed. Search scriptures to find truths about those topics and compare them to find if your burdens are bigger than God’s character. See my example below:
- Provision-2 Corinthians 9:8
- Business-Deuteronomy 8:18
- Righteousness-Luke 9:23-24
- Relationship-Romans 12:17-21
If I trust and live by these scriptures I believe that only good can come as a result of my actions. Therefore, God’s character far outweighs my burdens. Try it for yourself.
Are you going to try the exercise? Have you done it before? What were your results? I’d love to know. Share your experiences in the comments section so we can get the conversation poppin. Also, I shared some of the skeletons in my closet, can you relate to letting your own affect your relationship with God?