Dad and I – already sharing a laugh
Psalm 6:6 – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.
My dad died after a three-month long battle with lung cancer. He had his doctorate, he was a gifted teacher and pastor, a creative woodworker and he was able to talk to anyone about almost anything. More importantly to me, he was MY amazing dad whom I loved so dearly – full of encouragement, love and a great sense of humor. When he died, we were devastated at our loss. Even though it was ten years ago now, I can still remember him holding my hand while he was on his hospital bed, trying to talk through the oxygen mask. I remember seeing his pulse slow down and telling him, “It’s okay, you can go.” I’m not sure why I said that, but even in my grief in the moment, I knew he would be in a better place, completely healed and with his Savior.
But it didn’t take away the grief.
The weeks after his death were filled with so many tears, and – if I’m honest – many times of anger from me toward God. Why would He take my dad? Why would He take someone with so much wisdom and talent? Take someone else who is evil instead! Take that old man stumbling down the street! The anger was ugly and unjust, but it was the truth of how I felt.
I still miss him, of course. I want so badly to call him up and tell him about my kids or about the degree I’m pursuing – I know he’d be so excited for me. Is it wrong that I still grieve? Or that I talk about him to friends or remember him with writing about how much he meant to me? Certainly not. Grief may change shape over time, but it will remain.
Then there are the general irritations of life – this summer, a lady rear ended my husband’s Jeep, then kids bashed in the window of the rental car we had to rent while the Jeep was being fixed (the whole time, I was just adding up the money this would cost us…). Other times: like when the van is getting its brakes fixed, the bill is due for health insurance, the sump pump breaks down, kids are sick and the money is running low… – irritations not quite so serious as trauma or death – but enough to cause some level of grief in our lives. Because all of this – sickness, death, things falling apart- are effects of a fallen world, I believe fighting against it with tears or anger or frustration are actually a healthy response because even we, in our humanity, can see that something is wrong with the world.
Can we bring this sadness/frustration/grief to God? King David did, as we see in the Psalms. These types of psalms are called Psalms of Lament, as we looked at in week 3. David did not hesitate to bring his sorrow to God. (It should be noted, at times David’s sorrow was caused by sins he had committed and he then had to deal with tragic consequences. Not all our grief is self-caused, of course, but some is. David still ran to God.)
Read the following verses from Psalm 6 and look at some of the descriptive phrases David uses to describe his despair.
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
I have to admit, I used to cringe a bit at how dramatic David is as he lays it out there for everyone to see (you remember he’s this awesome hero of the Bible and the King of Israel, right? The guy crying on his “couch”? He’s the warrior? Yep.) …but, after I thought about it for a while, I actually decided what was amazing about this passage is that David (the crying warrior and king) came to God in his despair, knowing that God would be there and would listen. God did not turn away from him.
The God that created the universe? Listened to David.
And then I remember times in my life when I’ve cried out to God: times when those around me are hurting or dealing with deaths of loved ones, or anxiety or long-term illness – the list could go on and on. And I have been there with friends when they have heard terrible, hurtful news that changed their lives forever. Tears flowed and we said things in those moments of grief that we would never say normally. You have felt that way at some point in your life, too, right? Did you mourn and weep and fight? Did you go to God?
This is why I am so thankful for the honesty in the Psalms of Lament. For we are all a part of this and we will all face grief.
But notice that at the end of these psalms, the author always ends with affirmation of God’s character. One of my favorite passages that show this is found in Psalm 138:7-9:
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
This week as you pray, thank God for His faithfulness in your life – even in the hard times. And if you are currently experiencing pain – physical, emotional, spiritual – know that God is there. Know that the God who King David relied on is there to extend His grace, His faithfulness and His peace. Bring your pain to Him, knowing He hears you. Know that He is bottling up your tears in heaven.
The God that created the universe? Listens to you.