After reading Detrick Bonhoeffer's book Meditations on Psalms a few times I was finally inspired to actually read and pray through the Psalms myself. Now granted, I've only made it a little more then half way through so far but I've discovered something I did not expect. I expected to be inspired to praise God, to pray more thankfully, to be filled with poetic quotes about God's amazing power, love, and provision that would fill me with encouragement and hope. Of course that did happen to some extent but the real take away for me thus far has been not how to praise but how to cry out. And if I can be so bold, how to complain, even dramatically complain about my circumstances. And I'm sure you're thinking, "Wow, Katie you really missed the point." I wouldn't blame you. But the truth is, out of the 80 Psalms I've carefully, thoughtfully, even prayerfully read the vast majority are verses filled with pain, sorrow, complaints, doubts, grief, and unbelief. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it in sequence myself. Preachers don't preach sermons on those verses. People don't post those verses printed in elegant font with mountain and river backgrounds on social medie. We enjoy chapters like 23, 27, and 91.
What I did not expect to learn from the Psalm is the freedom to say, "God my life sucks right now. Where are you?" Because that's the majority of the Psalms. And I have realized, He gets it, folks. He knows our struggle. He's not dismayed when we acknowledge the pain or even rail against Him. In fact it seems like He prefers us to be honest about how we feel about those things to Him. The bottom line is He's there. In all of it. No matter our doubt. His loving kindness and His worthiness in all of it is not threatened by any of it. So I've been experimenting a bit with this. Lately, when something or a situation bothers me or challenges my faith in His goodness I've started praying all of it out loud. Including those big "no no" statements like, "Why God?" And you know what I've discovered? The simple act of airing all those things out have 1) caused me to shift perspective. Hearing those complaints out loud help me see how truly insignificant they are in the shadow of His awesomeness. 2) It deflates the enemy's power. There's something that happens in our mind when we meditate on our problems. They get bigger. When we say them out loud they immediately shrink like a balloon filled with air being let go of. 3) Only when I'm truly honest with myself about the problem can I fully surrender it and open myself to hearing His voice on it. If I stay in denial and try and make myself feel better with patronizing "Christian" feel good or even worse, belittling and condemning thoughts I will never allow God to speak into it. What can He speak into if I don't acknowledge it's there in the first place?
Now, I do believe there is a reality of heaven we can tap into that is so different to our present experiences but that does not negate the fact that we live in troubling times! He is not calling us to hide or pretend away our struggles, but rather bring it into the light of His reality and release it to Him so we can be that light to others.