A number of years ago when I was on the pastoral staff of a church in the northern part of the state, I was asked to fill in for a pastor while he was on vacation, even though the church was of another faith tradition. Since the core doctrines of Christianity are universal it was not an issue.
I can’t remember what the subject of my message was that morning but I came away with an interesting, but I believe flawed idea.
The local fellowship was also a gathering place for people who were part of a multilevel marketing program. The organization seemed to be the primary topic of foyer discussions before and after the morning service. The portion that stuck in my mind was the idea of “fake it till you make it.” In my experience that thinking is a terrible business model and even worse approach to our relationship with Christ.
There are some religious ideas floating around which suggest we only come to God as our “best self,” the kind of person we think God wants us to be. There may be times when we approach God we act like we don’t want to disappoint Him by saying how we “really feel.” We may be uncomfortable with the idea we are frustrated, sad, disappointed or even angry with God.
I think many would agree that every relationship requires authenticity; but I would submit to you authenticity is the best and certainly most biblical model for approaching God. One example is in the context of King David turning over the reins of power to his son Solomon. In chapter 28 of First Chronicles, King David had called together everyone who was anyone in verse one and in solemn ceremony he talked about what God had done and charged the leaders to “Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God.” Then he turned to his son and said “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV).
So is God able to know and handle our hurt, disappointment and anger? I would say yes. Which brings me to an understanding of a word not many of us use anymore: it is the word “lament.” There is not space to treat the whole subject, but in the Old Testament lament describes prayers expressing feelings of grief, sorrow and disappointment. The hymnal that was used by our fellowship for years was titled “Hymns of Glorious Praise.” I was reminded recently that the book of Psalms was the hymnbook for ancient Israel; and in that hymnal only 20 of the 150 psalms are songs of praise. While the “laments” both corporate and individual number 64 psalms or 43% of that hymnal.
I have often said God has broad shoulders He can handle your complaints, even your anger; you don’t have to fake it with God, He already knows. He not only knows, He cares and does not leave us to go through our problems alone.
Bill Upton is a retired chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.