Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (Ps. 22:1)
People of faith are often allergic to words like anguish, pain, or lament. We don’t break out in hives, mind you. Instead, we break out in platitudes about “perfect peace” or clichés about “everything happening for a reason.” We often try to spin situations toward the positive, because the reality is that the very idea of suffering can make us uncomfortable.
But if we sit with the psalmist’s emotion here, we have to reckon with big questions: What’s the difference between a silent God and a nonexistent one? What’s the proper response when God seems far removed from our situations? What do we do when we’re faced with things that it seems God would want to remove—disease, death, abuse, racism, senseless suffering—and God seems to look on without intervening? What reason would be good enough for God to look away from a relative dying from cancer?
If we take seriously the role of the Psalms as “Israel’s hymnbook,” we can see that sometimes the most worshipful thing we can do with God is to offer an honest expression of our disappointment. To bring him our questions is a step of faith that he can handle them. We honor God over all when we trust him with it all, even when we are uncertain he is near.
Identify your disappointment with God and talk with him about it.
Ethan Linder is an editor and the pastor of Hospitality, Collegians, and Young Adults at College Wesleyan Church in Indiana, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their three sons.
© 2021 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.