God, Can I Tell You Something?

Are we allowed to be completely honest with God? In the face of all the pain, suffering, and despair of our current situation in the world, I’ve thought about something that’s actually quite common in the Bible: expressing our troubles and praying for help in coming out of pain. The big word for this is lamentation, which is a passionate expression of sorrow or grief. At least one-third of the Psalms are laments and we see these types of statements frequently in the book of Job. In fact, Job cursed the very day he was born, saying, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11). We also find the Old Testament prophets crying out to God and the book of Lamentations communicates the confusion and suffering that followed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
On top of that, we find many examples of lamenting in the New Testament. People who are sick and in pain cry out to Jesus for help. For example, Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, shouted out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). Jesus Himself cried out to His Father God in times of anguish and suffering. Just before He was arrested in the garden, He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). And during His extreme agony on the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Obviously, prayers of lament and expressions of sorrow or grief appear often in the pages of Scripture, which leads me to wonder if we may have lost touch with this dimension of prayer. Perhaps we feel like that type of “venting” to God is inappropriate or even flat-out wrong. But when we hurt physically, we cry out in pain, so when we hurt spiritually, why can’t we cry out in lament?
During those times when it seems that God has forsaken us, we might believe that we should not feel that way or that we might even be losing our faith. But the truth is that lamenting can demonstrate a genuine, more complete kind of faith. In the Bible, faith is not just an intellectual acknowledgement or understanding that God exists; it’s entrusting our entire selves to God. If we’re being honest, we know that sometimes we experience God’s absence and we have serious doubts and struggles. But lamenting is an act of faith, not a failure of faith. We cry out to God because, deep down, we know He is there, that He cares, and that our relationship with Him matters.
Troy Burns