A DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT by Pastor Phil
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1
There are times in most Christians lives when they feel like David does in Psalm 22. There are times when everything in your life seems to be going wrong at the same time. There’s been a death, followed by another one, followed by a serious illness, on top of the car breaking down, followed by…. It's a "when it rains it pours" scenario. Life is crumbling around you. You don’t know how you are going to go on. You have no strength left. You are suffering and in pain.
Where do you turn?
It’s hard to go to church. Being around happy people is difficult. Praising God is the last thing you want to do. To do so would feel like a lie. You want to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” Yet, what would all your good Christian friends think if you did?
However, David had no trouble expressing his complaint to God. In fact, he wrote it into a song that was included in Israel’s songbook (The Psalms) and sung as part of the worship of God.
Is it possible that a complaint, a painful cry like “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” can be an act of worship?
Psalm 22 is called a Psalm of Lament and what I only recently discovered, and find fascinating, is that there are more Psalms of Lament than any other form of psalm. Lament is not only a legitimate form of worship, it was a common form of worship, and can be a tremendous help to all of us when are in dark places. Lament can help us express and work through intense times of pain and suffering by drawing from the strengthening presence of God, who might be the only strength we have left, and is the only strength that we need.
In a class I recently taught at William Jessup University, my students wrote their own personal Psalm of Lament. It proved to be a very powerful experience for them. So, I encourage you to do the same and write your own Psalm of Lament.
Writing a Psalm of Lament
- Find a place with minimal distraction and take a few moments in silence to allow yourself to slow down and be fully present.
- Ask God to help you engage both your head and heart in writing this Psalm.
- Start writing, being sure to include each of the elements of a Psalm of Lament listed below.
- Your personal Psalm can be any length, and does not have to rhyme or be grammatically correct. Simply seek to be as honest and open with God as you can.
Psalms of Lament contain the following elements. I will use parts of Psalm 22 to illustrate, and I encourage you to read the entire psalm.
Direct Address to God: “My God, my God” Psalm 22:1.
Complaint: “Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest” Psalm 22:1-2. A lament honestly and specifically names a situation that is painful, wrong, or unjust and does not seem to align with what you know of God’s character and desires.
Request: “Lord, do not be far from me…Come quickly to help me” Psalm 22:19. A lament expects that God will be able to do something about the situation. Most often the request sounds like a demand.
Expression of Trust: “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them” Psalm 22:3-4. To understand biblical lament properly, we must acknowledge that the expression of trust, with all its praise and joy, is part of a psalm of lament.
May you experience the strengthening presence of God as you write your own lament.
This devotional is indebted to an article by Stacey Gleddiesmith that can be found by CLICKING HERE