One of the most common reasons for someone to doubt God's existence is the question, "How can God be good and powerful when evil exists?" From genocide to natural disasters to wars and poverty, how can God be good? Job is a book in the Bible that is more in line with the philosophy of Ecclesiastes and the poetry and prose of the Psalms. In it, we find the answer to this question: God is constantly working in and through suffering, providing meaning in the midst of pain.
In the book of Job, a righteous man named Job is thrown into suffering. Everything is taken away from him: his wealth (Job 1:13-17), his family (Job 1:18-22), even his physical health is destroyed (Job 2:7-10). His friends come to console him, but they end up blaming him for his pain, saying he deserves every bit he has received (Job 11).
We, much like Job's friends, tend to shy away from truth. We seek to blame suffering on external or internal factors, or try to drown the pain in some temporary pleasure. In doing so we reject God's grace and love. When Job cried out to the Lord, he did so in bitterness and doubt. He questioned God's goodness, yet God responds to His cries (Job 38-42). God calls us to lay our burdens, however filthy, down at His feet. No matter how angry or broken we are, He accepts us. Job's friends tried to act pious and arrogant in their knowledge of God to explain away the suffering, but Job just laid his pain before the Lord. God accepted Job's complaints but rebuked his friends' "theology."
Contrary to what we may think, God doesn't just want our praise and triumphalism. He wants our authentic lament, our mourning of the world's brokenness and sin. Ultimately, this lament places our complaints at the throne of the only One who has any power to bring about justice, redemption and healing. It allows us to complain to God first and foremost, and to let His sovereignty and holiness work in our sinful world. Lament allows us the access to a God, who cares deeply about our suffering, a God who hears our cries and responds (Psalm 40).
This Lent, let us open our hearts to God. Let us pour out our grief, despair, frustration, and complaints to Him. And from our pain, God will give us the truth we need.
There are two parts to our lament Practice. You can choose to do them all at once, or break them up into different days. First, spend some time studying Psalm 10 and Psalm 13 using the How to Study the Bible guide from day 3. Second, spend some time writing out your own prayer of lament as it relates to your own life. Use the steps below in your prayer.
Connection Group Guide: Lament gives us a language for living in the hurts, disappointments and challenges of an imperfect and broken world, while also trusting that God is good. Open your group time tonight by inviting your group to take part in the Individual practice together. Study Psalm 10 for the first 20 minutes and then open Psalm 51. Talk about what Psalm 51 might have to say about Lament. Ask the group what complaints, sorrows, or pains they would like to lament. Have other members of the group boldly pray for God to care for the circumstance, and boldly proclaim trust that He will. This group time might seem heavy at first, but being able to bring our heaviness to a compassionate and powerful God allows the weight of the world to move from our shoulders to His.