Yesterday I started working my way through Psalm 13. As I work my way to the last few verses, the tone of the prayer abruptly shifts from lament to a tone of praise. Essentially the Psalmist tells God, “In the face of all my frustrations of your silence I will trust in your loyally faithful love, and I will hope that at some point I will be able to rejoice and sing about how you proved your goodness to me yet again.”
Here is my beef with the Psalms. I know pastors aren’t supposed to have “a beef” with the Psalms, but I do. In my humble opinion, Psalms start out so good with such raw honesty that I can totally understand. But within a few verses the Psalm frustrates me and becomes alien when it abruptly turns on a dime and starts saying nice things to God – talking about how much the Psalmist trusts Him. If you think about it, many Psalms could be summarized, “I’m mad, this stinks, BUT – viola – I will trust God.” Real life angst is processed so quickly in the Psalms that it gives you emotional whiplash!
But it hit me one day. Psalms are summaries of the whole experience of an issue with God. They aren’t a record of exactly how a Psalmist prayed in one sitting, but a record of hours, days, or even months of processing a certain issue with God in the same way a song-writer distills years of a certain experience into one three-minute song. So instead of being frustrated by the Psalms I can be encouraged. I can be encouraged because the Psalms actually show me I can safely process raw emotions before God and pray things out before Him until I arrive at a place where I rest in what is true.
Psalm 13 shows me that it’s better to talk out all my issues than act out all of my issues! It is dangerous and destructive to act out everything that angers and tempts me. On the other hand it is safe and healthy to talk out everything that angers and tempts me so that I can ultimately arrive in God’s shalom. So talk it out!