We read Psalm 44 this morning in our staff Bible study, a psalm loaded with anger, fear, and frustration towards God. We considered the different places in society that are loaded down with the same kind of raw emotions. The United Methodist Church came to mind, especially after its jarring vote yesterday regarding gay and lesbian pastors. Others thought of immigrants. One spoke about her grandmother’s care of her husband after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s — a grandfather who transitioned from being kind and gentle to mean and mouthy. Her grandmother could easily resonate with the words of Psalm 44 …
… if given the space to do so. So many of us have been conditioned to hide raw emotions, especially towards God. Expressing anger and frustration towards our heavenly Father feels, well, un-Christian.
But the psalms make room for that kind of emotional release. It would have been easy to leave these “psalms of lament” out of Scripture, but that didn’t happen. Why?
“I think it opens the door for healing,” one staff member said. It might not feel like it in the moment, but if the emotion is repressed for too long, it festers into something far worse. So true.
To that I would add a reminder of the church’s other responsibility: to provide space for hope. That’s what the church brings to the conversation — hope. Hope revealed by a God who can bring life into the darkest of places. We like that message of hope, no doubt. But let’s not go there too quickly. Sometimes we need to just sit in the raw emotion of it all. Sometimes we just need to hear and listen. When ready, we provide a hand to hold as we walk into a new tomorrow.
Blessings to you in these days of raw emotions. May we be a church that listens .. and a church with hands to hold through it all.