Do you ever get angry with the people you love?
Of course you do!
If we never got angry with the people we love, then it would actually show that we didn't in fact really care that much for them.
So why do we never get angry with God?
Why are our prayers so purged and polished and polite?
Reading the Psalms recently, I find it refreshing to see how raw and emotionally honest these ancient prayers are. Yes there's plenty of adoration, exultation and gratitude. But there is also rage and despair, groaning and fearfulness.
And all this shows the very intimate relationship that the Psalmists had with God.
You can't have an intimate relationship with someone if you can't be honest with that person. And the Psalmists are brutally honest with God. There are no holds barred.
Last Tuesday, I visited a man in hospital who has been confined to bed and in hospital for many months now and is desperate to go home.
How long? he said. How long must I stay here?
This reminded me of the words of many of the Psalmists, who cry out - How long, O Lord? How long? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
So we did a bit railing against God together.
From the hospital bed, we cried out - quite loudly - saying How Long? How Long?
It made us laugh - to come that clean and honest with God about how we really felt.
But it also, surprisingly, helped us to start trusting again.
Trusting that God does hear our cries, that he does cares about our suffering.
Praying in this way - not tempering our frustration and misery but letting it all out - doesn't just get things off our chests, it makes us fully present to God in our true and angry or desperate selves. And only when we come to God as we truly are, can transformation begin.
So what are you feeling angry about today?
Are you exeriencing some personal calamity? Are you railing against the injustices of our world?
Make today a day when you bring these things to God with all the fear, rage and confusion that is within you. And see what God has to say or do in response.
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In the meantime, here is Psalm 13 to help get you started:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.