“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “Let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” (Ps. 22:8)
A few months ago, a friend asked me, “If God is good, who is he good for? And if Christian community has anything unique, what is it that we can’t get elsewhere?” This broad-stroke resentment often emerges from a vision of the Christian life as uniformly “positive” or “encouraging,” as if God was primarily interested in us being prosperous, well-polished, and (above all) nice. Some of those things are actually dear to God’s heart, but in distress, we usually are left needing something other than a positive thought. We need a wholesome way to express our feelings—all of them.
Far from leadership development language or a narrow focus on self-improvement, the Psalms offer us a rich depiction of a nuanced relationship with God, including the emotionally dense parts most of us censor out of our public testimony. If we have the courage to use it, the Psalms offer us a rich emotional vocabulary, giving voice to the truth that our whole selves—joy, anguish, anger, excitement—can lead us into prayer.
If my friend were to ask me this question again, my answer would go something like this: One thing the Christian community has that cannot be found elsewhere is an invitation to become more fully ourselves, and in so doing, to speak a fresh vocabulary of grace.
Have an honest conversation with God about the hard things you’re facing.
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®.