The psalmist is bitter and angry. When the words start to flow, giving expression to his inner hurt, they come out filled with wrath. Perhaps you have found the words you wrote in your journal, or the paint you put on the canvas, or the musical notes played to be anything but “Christian.” Let me remind you again of who receives these words, strokes, or notes—it is God, listening lovingly and patiently.
I grew up in a culture where any prayer, any God-talk, had to be filled with pious and reverent words. There was no room for expressing anger, disappointment, or hurt toward God. Prayers were supposed to be filled with flowery words of admiration, devotion, and praise, as if anything else would turn God into a lightning-wielding punisher of disrespect. That was until I started reading the psalms.
More often than not, psalmists start by giving God their worst, while eventually finding healing as they let off steam. Psalm 22 is a great example of this. But Psalm 137 is purely a psalm of venting with no healing yet. But, in letting go of those inner feelings of pain, the psalmist unknowingly starts down a road toward healing.
God is big enough to receive these bitter words from a psalmist who is disillusioned with life. God is big enough for when we lash out. I think God appreciates our honesty when we use words, images, and notes that answer God’s question, “Where do I find you?” While we spit venom, God hears, “Lord, this is a mess, I am in a mess, and I need you to hear my cries for help.” God is big enough, God is patient enough, and God understands.
Lord, thank you for receiving me lovingly and compassionately. You are my rock, my redeemer, and the one who leads me to peace. Amen.
Lamentations opens with a description of the plight of the people of Judah, the southern kingdom. The people have been taken into exile as part of God’s judgment for their idolatry. The psalmist struggles to sing the songs of the Lord. In fact, those who overthrew Jerusalem have forced them to sing for their amusement, so the joy is gone. The psalmist prays that one day God will repay the invaders. In Second Timothy, Paul praises God for Timothy’s faith and for the legacy of faith that comes through his family. He charges him to preach boldly and without hesitation the gospel of Christ. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges the disciples to show greater faith and to understand that we are all servants in God’s kingdom.
Read Lamentations 1:1-6. How do you allow your imperfections and failings to transform you?
Read Psalm 137. How do you remember your spiritual traditions and sacred places? How do you look for God’s work in change?
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14. What spiritual practices help you to “guard the good treasure entrusted to you”?
Read Luke 17:5-10. How might a posture of cyclical servanthood to and with all creation transform or increase your faith?
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