The Advent season is marked by the tension of joyous celebration that Jesus once came as a baby, and hopeful expectation for when he will come again as King. This tension weighs on us in our varying circumstances, bringing forth a myriad of emotions and expectations. Some enter Advent with joy, some with hope, and some with pain. This same range of emotion is woven throughout the songs and poems of the Psalms. The ancient writers were of the human variety: the joyous, expectant, and thankful. They were also the brokenhearted, bruised, and rejected. These complexities created something more than an endless string of jolly choruses of happy thoughts. The Psalms are the sincere cries and praises of God’s children.
We chose to work through the different genres of the Psalms for Advent because the songs and poems repeatedly point the reader to the hope of Emmanuel—God with us—despite the unique seasons of our lives. Today, we’ll meditate on a psalm of lament. If you’ve entered Advent in a period of deep fear or desperation, know that your expression of pain and sorrow is still praise. The psalmist implores us to find solace and comfort in the person of God by remembering his past faithfulness as we turn from ourselves and look toward him.
Sometimes it feels as though you can’t be too honest about grief or sorrow if you’re a Christian. Before you’ve even finished sharing about a trial or struggle, a well-intentioned friend reminds you to count it all joy and ushers you past honesty to forced happiness. There is a better way—a proper way—to walk through pain and suffering that is both honest in struggle and glorifying to God. Scripture shows us a way to lament for our good and his glory. This is what we see in Psalm 22.
This psalm is attributed to David—the famous king of Israel who was known as “a man after God’s own heart” but also as a liar, adulterer, and, murderer. While God established David’s family as the royal dynasty which would rule forever through Christ, David’s life was also marked by pain, trial, and sorrow (I Chron. 17). In this psalm, David models how to lament in a way that is both sincere and glorifying to God. He is unashamedly honest and transparent about his circumstances, his feelings, and his questions. Yet after each cry of anguish, he immediately reminds himself of God’s unchanging, always faithful, and holy character. For every thought of man-centered hopelessness, David shares of God-centered hope. He repeatedly uses memories of God’s past faithfulness to guide his heart back to faith through prayer. This is how we ought to lament.
This excerpt is from a piece written for Deeply Rooted Magazine. You can see the full post here.