Encouragement From The Word

April Showers: Thinking About Lament

“April showers bring May flowers.”  That’s not in the Bible, but it could be, except that it doesn’t apply to folks in the southern hemisphere.  (So if you’re reading this from the southern hemisphere, add six months and read it later!)

It’s an idiom that we northerners use to try to add a little hope to what can often be a dreary month.  We understand that we need the rain in order to bring about the verdancy that comes with late spring, just as we need the sunshine.  I suppose some might appreciate a compromise where it rained only at night (when it doesn’t much matter) and the sun shone through the day, but weather systems are not always that cooperative.

If we’re honest, though, we are a spoiled people:  we want what we want when we want it.  And when we don’t get what we want when we want it, we sometimes tend to think that life isn’t fair.

But I don’t remember reading anywhere that life is supposed to be fair.

This is underlined for us when we experience inconvenience, yes, but even more so when we experience tragedy.

Perhaps a loved one dies unexpectedly, or a pink slip arrives, or sickness befalls us.

Some – even some followers of Jesus – would say that we need to cheer up, and “just praise the Lord.”

While it’s good to praise the Lord, and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5.18), we should not prevent ourselves from the practice of lament.

To lament means to feel sad, and sometimes, even mad.  And in the Bible, we see examples of both – and they are directed at God.

It’s common for Christians to think there’s something wrong with expressing anything but joy to the Lord, but Scripture demonstrates that it’s not wrong to lament before God, too.

There are some very raw laments; Psalm 137 comes to mind.  And there are others that simply express before God exactly what the writer (usually on behalf of God’s people) is feeling.  Psalm 130 is a gentle one.  Psalm 6 is more blatant.

Take some time to look up “Psalms of lament” and ponder what the Bible tells you in terms of the freedom you have to share your “rainy days” with the Lord.  Listen for how God responds as you offer these passages to him.  

And give thanks that God can handle anything you say.

You know what I long for, Lord;
    you hear my every sigh.
 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails,
    and I am going blind” (Psalm 38.9-10, NLT)

Encouragement From The Word

A Psalm about Self

There’s a little book of creative writing that was written by Joe Bayly, and compiled after he died.  It’s called Psalms of My Life, and as we start a new year of Encouragement, I’d like to share one of Bayly’s pieces, called “A Psalm about Self”.  See if you can find anything in here that might help you start your 2019 right.

Lord save me
from myself
my settled self
unsettle me
bring to end of rope
but only
if you
are at the end.

My procrastinating self
that can so easy find
side roads
that are more interesting
even ones where
errands can be run.

Send me back
to
my comfort loving self
uncomfort me
pull the covers from me
on cold night
that I may
wake.  Starve my body
that my soul may feast.

My proud self.

Give me grace to bend myself
And keep me bent
lest you should
one day
bend me to the breaking point.
My righteous self
show me sin
that lurks beneath
my conscious thought
motivating
that pushes me
to settling
comfort pride
and self
rationalizing self
that finds excuse
for what I do
and don’t.

Save me from myself
Save me so that
self may die
and save me
from pride

that self is dead.

Joseph Bayly, Psalms of My Life:  Daily Reflections on Newspapers, Wild Flowers, New Jobs, Hotel Rooms, Birthdays, and other Nitty Gritties of Life (Weston, ON:  David C. Cook, 1987), 16-17.

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11.2, NLT).