There are many great things about social media. But while I’m grateful for tools like Twitter and Instagram and all the encouragement via “insta-verses,” I’m equally frustrated with the false Christian pick-me-ups displayed throughout social media, such as tweets like, “You can’t trust God and worry at the same time,” or “Leave your past in your past,” or bios that include the infamous “Too blessed to be stressed” line.
Where do we get these silly slogans? For the longest time I believed these sayings myself; I was quick to give them to a hurting friend. But when God called me to deal with areas of my life in which I didn’t fully trust him, these flimsy slogans quickly turned from motivators into discouraging setbacks and empty promises.
See, over the past few years, God has been showing me how “off” I’ve been in my understanding of suffering. As I began to study, what I found is that in order to have a full relationship with God, not only was it okay to acknowledge the reality of pain and frustration, but God wanted me to go a step further: to talk with him about it.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve found myself lamenting frequently: expressing feelings of regret, sorrow, and frustration with God. I chose to surrender my career over to God, and he has not made the path easy for me to walk. During a long stretch of living out of a suitcase, feeling little direction, and wondering if God had maybe forgotten me, I became frustrated. And the Christian one-liners didn’t do a thing to cheer me up.
As I turned away from the noise and pressure and opened the Word of God, my feelings of frustration and disappointment suddenly felt validated.
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
These laments are just a few examples of questions you’d find written in my journals. But more importantly, they’re found in Psalm 13. The psalms are filled with laments, questions, frustrations, and disappointments. As I struggled, reading these honest prayers in the Bible made me feel normal, whereas the Christian culture was unintentionally making me feel like I’d missed something in my walk with God.