SOURCE: Scotty Smith
O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. Jer. 20:7
Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? Jer. 20:18
Gracious Father, this is some pretty raw praying by one of your beloved sons and prophets. Jeremiah’s lament makes me thankful today for the freedom you give us to bring our unfiltered and unfettered feelings to you. If we don’t bring our painful emotions to you, we will take them somewhere. Others will feel the brunt of our anguish and anger, our faith struggle and fear, our disconnect and distress. We’re also prone to medicate in ways which only make things worse.
But only you have the big enough heart and broad enough shoulders to walk with us through moments—even seasons of spiritual chaos and confusion. I praise you for the constancy of your welcome and the refuge of your heart. If you weren’t put off by Jeremiah’s struggle, surely you’ll take on ours.
It’s comforting to know the same prophet who assured others of your gracious promise and good plan—a plan for prosperity, not harm (Jer. 29:11); the same prophet who gave us a vision of the glory and the grace of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34); this same prophet, like us, experienced seasons in which he felt deceived, betrayed, and abandoned, even grieving the day he was born. We’re all weak and broken. We all need the gospel daily, no exceptions.
This gives me courage as I seek to steward my own feelings before you. But today it gives me compassion as I pray for a couple of friends who are echoing Jeremiah’s cry.
For the friend I chatted with yesterday who’s feeling set up, chewed up, and spit out by you, bring your centering presence to bear. He loves you, but feels abandoned by you. He knows better, but he’s becoming bitter. My instinct is to “fix” him, but the way of the gospel is to listen and love, not launch with a theological treatise. Give me patience and kindness for my friend.
For another friend whose spiritual melancholia seems to be heading to an even darker place, Father, give me wisdom to know what kind of care he really needs. What part of his struggle is simply a physical/medical issue? What’s to some degree demonic? What’s just plane ole’ pity party or the consequences of foolish choices? Bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear in unmistakable ways.
Help me, Lord, and heal my friends. Meet each of us as you met Jeremiah. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name. Amen.