Lament

“Most people in Western societies today who believe in God see him as obliged to arrange things for our benefit if we live a good enough life according to our own chosen standards.”~~Tim Keller

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“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”~~Brian Tracy

It was a tough choice for today’s word of the day. I had propinquity, from Dictionary.com, which means, “affinity of nature; similarity.” But I think I prefer the one from the Oxford English Dictionary, which is twitterati. It means, “Users of the social networking service Twitter, esp. prolific contributors or those who have high numbers of followers.”

Today is Fritters Day. And it doesn’t matter if it’s apple or corn or potato! Just have yourself a fritter today!

Christi was feeling better last night, but my stomach had been kind of messed up, so we didn’t get to work out last night. We’ll try again tonight. At some point, we need to get our Christmas tree up to finish our decorating. We aren’t sure if we will get house lights up this year, or not.

It’s Wednesday, “Hump Day.” I’m not sure what all is going on this weekend. I still have to take my doctor’s form to Quest Labs and get my blood work done, so I’m planning to do that Saturday morning. I need to get my car serviced, at some point.

In baseball news, the Red Sox have reportedly signed David Price to a seven-year deal. I’m not really excited about that. I’m not a big fan, but that’s mostly because he used to play for the Tampa Bay Rays.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The last time I visited Timothy Keller’s book, I read about the petitionary prayer of asking. Today, I’m reading about the petitionary prayer of lament. “This is the prayer of someone in suffering and difficulty, who is wrestling with God’s will, perhaps questioning his ways, and seeking help to understand and endure.” J.I. Packer pulls no punches when he calls this type of prayer “complaining.”

Sure, we know that no one likes a person who whines and complains constantly. And we all know someone who does that. Sometimes, I even catch myself doing it. But any serious student of the Bible knows that, when bad things happened to God’s people, they “complain with great freedom and at considerable length to their God.” And Scripture seems to regard this type of prayer in a favorable light! We find the question, “How long?” close to twenty times in the Psalms.

There are a number of circumstances that could evoke a prayer of lament or complaining. One is opposition, when people seem to be betraying or persecuting us. Another is deprivation, either of health or material needs. Yet another is isolation, when we are either far from home or we have been abandoned or deserted.

There is another kind of lament that we find in the Psalms. Tim Keller calls both Psalm 39 and 88 “pitch-darkness prayers.” The sense of hope and God’s presence is utterly absent. In other Psalms that lament, by the end, the Psalmist seems to work his way out of his despondency. But in these, especially Psalm 88, they begin and end in darkness. As Christians, we all know that there are times when we feel like we are in spiritual darkness for a long, long time.

It seems to be that prayers of lamentation and complaint are pretty much omitted from modern books on prayer. Why is this? Perhaps it is a throwback to the medieval Catholic Church and Lutheran Reformers who “minimized the legitimacy of lament, because they believed it was important that Christians exhibit to God an unflinching, joyful acceptance of his will.” This could, of course, turn into a form of legalism

Another reason is the “consumerist character of so much contemporary religion. Most people in Western societies today who believe in God see him as obliged to arrange things for our benefit if we live a good enough life according to our own chosen standards.”

Yet we see these people of God fearlessly bringing their complaints to God in Scripture! We are encouraged to “offer and submit both our thoughts and our feelings in prayer to God.” Complaining should be an integral part of our prayer life. Packer says that it should be “a recurring element in the praying of the born again.”

Father, I pray that you would encourage me to not be afraid to lament and complain, when necessary. Let it not be for invalid reasons, but when there is truly something to lament over, let me not hesitate to do so. I pray that we would all, as your children, take heed of the number of prayers of lament or complaint in your Word. May we be as truly honest with you as we can, holding back nothing in our prayers.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

2 thoughts on “Lament

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