Our small group has begun a new study on this book. Seven weeks studying one Psalm---MY KIND OF STUDY! In depth--pouring over the scripture and looking for the meaning--and especially the application to our lives.
As I began week two, we are looking at the periods of life when we are wandering in the spiritual wilderness. Surely you have been there? Those times in life when we feel a disconnect with God. Even David, a man after God's own heart, in Psalm 13 asks, "HOW LONG, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Not only does David feel a disconnect, but he thinks God is hiding from him. This Psalm is known as the "Howling Psalm" (we will come back to that)
NOT the point of this post! One of the things pointed out in the first day of this week's study of verses 4-9 is the difference between complaining and lamenting. It is all about the degree.
I find myself enjoying complaining at times. Occasionally my complaining is a subtle backdoor approach to a little bragging. I complain about my trainer (Bless his heart), but truthfully I am pretty proud of slowly becoming stronger. I complain about walking in this hot-sticky-oppressive weather, but I am happy that I am walking five miles. In all truth, many times when I am moaning and groaning, I do not want anything changed, nor do I need you to fix it--I just want to pontificate on the "Woe is me" moments of life. Having a need to point out life's minor inconveniences is a way of making you aware of the burdens I bear. Most of us have a basic need to be seen and heard, and unfortunately, complaining is our poor means to make that point.
Perhaps the reason God kept the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years is they seemed to be enjoying their griping way too much. Everyday for 40 years--
"Does he know where he is going? WHAT more manna! This dust is everywhere! WHY must I be at the back of the pack?" On and on continual moaning, groaning, and complaining spewed from the Wilderness Parade. And YET- they got up six days a week and plodded forward.
Lamenting---lamenting is "a deep response to real pain." The author describes it as a howling wolf response. (see above notation) When we are desperate for change and restoration, we lament or cry out to God for help. Not some soft spoken, high brow, wordy prayer as if we are addressing a crowd of The Frozen Chosen--but a GET DOWN and YELL IT OUT--THERE AIN'T NO DOUBT WHERE YOU ARE COMING FROM PLEA FOR HELP!
Complaining is "a shallow response to discomfort." It is a horizontal act where we are sounding off and just want to be heard. Lamenting is a vertical act where we are desperate for God's help. "The complainer seeks comfort while the lamenter seeks the Comforter."
Here is the really good news--God welcomes our lament. "He helps put words in our mouths to pour out our hearts to Him." I am so thankful for a God who not only sees me but also hears me, and listens to what I am saying. He hears my laments and His intention is to comfort and sustain me for His mercies are indeed new every morning!
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new ever morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in Him."