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“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5)
Three weeks ago in this space, in light of the atrocities in the Middle East, I began a four-part series on lament, a type of prayer God gives us to process our grief. In his book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, Mark Vroegop defines lament as “a prayer in pain which leads to trust.” Laments consist of four movements: turn to God, voice your complaint, ask boldly, and choose to trust. Think of it like a decision tree: in movement one, as you experience suffering, you have a choice to either turn to God or away from Him. In movement two, you can either suck it up and pretend all is fine, or you can give full vent to all your emotions to God. In movement three, you can either accept what is happening as fate, or ask God to act, to bring justice, to show up, to move, to act according to His character. And in movement four, you can either get swallowed up by your despair, or you can choose to trust that God is good, that He is sovereign, and that He loves you.
Today, we will look at the fourth and final movement, choose to trust. When you read through the Psalms, the raw honesty can be shocking to those of us who assume that one needs to approach the God of the universe with carefully measured words. The Psalmists are not afraid to complain, to question, and to doubt. But in almost every lament, there eventually comes the Hebrew word “vav,” which translates as “yet” or “but.” With that little word, the Psalmist crosses over the line from questioning and pleading to trusting. From “I” to “You,” from a preoccupation with my feelings to a focus on God’s character. For example:
Psalm 13:5 - But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
Lamentations 3:21-24 - Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
In this final movement of lament, we decide that whatever comes our way, we will choose to trust in God. We move from pain to trust, and sometimes even to worship, as we renew our commitment to wait on the Lord and trust in His “hesed,” His covenantal love for His people.
We see Paul choosing to trust is Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, as he complains about the thorn in his flesh, asks God boldly three times to remove it, and then chooses to trust that God’s grace is sufficient for him, even if God never removes the thorn. And we see Jesus choosing to trust in the garden of Gethsemane, complaining that his soul is in anguish to the point of death, asking God boldly to take the cup of judgment from Him, and then choosing to say “not my will but yours be done.” When we choose to trust, we confess that we are finite creatures, that our perspective is limited and our interests are selfish, and that maybe, just maybe, our good and loving God is up to something better than we can comprehend. As Elisabeth Elliot put it:
God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.
Take time today to pour out your heart, your doubts, your disappointments, and your anger to God. Ask Him boldly for what it is you want. But be sure to end with reaffirming your trust in the God who loves you.