I had to read Sheila Carney’s “God Damn God” for school this week. Even though the topic was startling, I loved it! It was incumbent of my style of preaching and my relationship with God. Not that I personally, am angry or in anguish constantly, but the realness in the relationship with Him that can be so freeing. I used to wonder why God made me the way He did, which seemed so far from the “meek, quiet” woman in church that we read about. Carney’s statement about Jesus on pg. 118 describes exactly what God reminded me of in prayer. We see Jesus irritated, frustrated, angry and pleading and we forget that this is a part of Jesus that we can resemble too. I especially loved her statement, “denying feelings of anger doesn’t eliminate them.” (118) and, “ways must be sought to express our anger, our frustration, our experience of injustice in the presence of God and with the support of the community.” (119).
These very statements lead us to the topic of using laments in our Christian ministry. I would love to see more people real with God. I see too many Christians walk around with a pretend smile forced on their face. They believe if they don’t praise Him through the storm, or if they say anything expectant or negative, that Jesus or God the punisher will revoke blessings and bestow anger on them. God doesn't want Stepford Christianity. He wants a real, genuine relationship with us. Carney said it best in “realizing that love and hate co-exist in the same relationship” brings an intimacy with God. Imagine what kind of relationships we’d have with our spouses or children if we all just pretended everything was perfect all the time. It doesn’t breathe deep intimacy that God desperately wants from us. Being real with God will not drive us away from Him. Quite the contrary, it drives us closer. It allows us to cry to out to God, “show us through this who you God, REALLY are.” He celebrates when we identify a root in our lives and are no longer just an annoyed adult with no clue. We turn to him to express our true emotions and He can then help us see root issues in our own hearts, can show us how He is moving and leaves us with anticipation. THIS is intimacy with God; without laments we’re just faking it. In ministry, we do not hear this preached from the pulpit enough or discipled by our mentors. We get a whole bunch of “Christianese” that leaves us with no depth in our walk with Christ. When leaders act like we have it all together, we really are partnering to make others feel condemned.
Tell God your feelings in prayer. He knows them already, so why hide what you’re thinking?
Find places in scripture where people lamented to God and were STILL blessed and used greatly. Here’s a hint: the psalms is FULL of laments.
Be real with other people in your life. Let them know times you were angry and how you got through it. Showing them how God came through later in ways totally unexpected gives us freedom to be upset at present circumstances.
Find the “Silver Lining” and focus on that. After you’re done telling God how angry you are, ask Him to show you the silver lining.
How about you? Have you ever been able to freely talk to God about your disappointments, grief, loss or frustration in His plans? Head over to the RBM Facebook page to join the discussion: #RBM
Click here to read Sheila Carney’s article in pdf.