Pastor Scotty Watson, Bethlehem Baptist Church
These are difficult times. A global pandemic that shut down society, civil unrest unseen in this country for decades, breakdown of trust toward government, racism, the threat of economic collapse, an election whose outcome feels apocalyptic. Add the regular troubles we experience: cancer, bills, kids, marriages, jobs. Pressure is mounting. There’s a huge uptick in anxiety, depression, unreported abuse, fear, neglect, mental health problems. As a teacher, I’ve never seen as many teenagers and kids being treated for anxiety, depression, and attempted suicide. I often tell my colleagues, “It’s ok; I’m only drowning.”
This article isn’t about mental health, which is vital. There is much good in therapy, counseling, medication when appropriate.
It isn’t some pithy statement about “Just Hold On”, or “Let Go and Let God”. As followers of Jesus, we take comfort when Psalm 23 says “Though I
walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Sometimes we love “You are with me” and neglect “Valley of the Shadow of Death”. What do we do when we’re in the shadow? When it’s too much? When God DOES give us more than we can handle?
Lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow. A persistent theme in Scripture. At times, God’s people are a people of lament. Following God includes much pain and grief. The Bible devotes a whole book to lamenting (Lamentations is Jeremiah’s unrelenting grief over Jerusalem’s destruction). Lamenters rip their clothes, pour ash over their head, sit and weep, pray, fast, plead for God to intervene.
Listen to David’s lament in Psalm 13:1-4 (references from ESV translation):
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”
For the complete column see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard