Since we’re preaching in the book of Psalms on Sunday mornings, I think it would be an interesting time to reflect on what life is like for us today and what it should or could look like. What we see in the Psalms is a reality and honesty in communication that in many ways we can’t relate to today. The highest percentage of the Psalms are called laments. This means the psalmist is lamenting or struggling with life and, as we would say back in the 60’s, he would “let it all hang out”. In just a cursory look at random through the Psalms you find fear, discouragement, depression, anger, complaining, awareness of enemies all around, pleading, anguish, and on and on. My point is that the psalmists are not afraid to talk about their challenges and how it makes them feel. Now, of course, they are also quick to turn to the Lord and trust him and give him thanks and praise. But more often than not that happens right in the midst of the trial, not as a result of being delivered.
On the other hand now days, in our culture, often, all we generally see is the bright side of things. Our advertising is filled with the most beautiful, successful, well off people who apparently have it all together. In our Facebook lifestyle you mostly see the good, positive and beautiful side of people and life. To look at all thats happening in others lives you could tend to think you are the only one experiencing problems and being overwhelmed by them. Now imagine how this would affect your attitude. Would you be more willing to be honest about what’s going on in your life? Would you be more open to share truthfully in your small group? What kind of effect does this have in our churches if all we ever accentuate is the positive and beautiful? Can you imagine having James the brother of Jesus coming to preach in our church? What if he said to us what he said to those he wrote to in the first century: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”.... “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:4-10). Imagine instead of a perky worship leader encouraging you, the pastor got up and rebuked you? Or ended the meeting with “have a horrible week!”? No, this is not our experience. Now I’m not suggesting that we start being gloomy and morose, but I am saying I think we can learn something from the Psalms that will help us. We can learn to be more real with what’s going on in our lives, and recognize that difficulties, trials, sin and failure are a normal part of any Christian life. The sooner we get that, the sooner we will “humble ourselves before the Lord” and look to him and to those around us he has put there to be a support. The less shocking, and more normal it will be for people to talk about what’s really going on or how they are really feeling, and the more likely we will be willing to pray for each other and be a means of God’s grace. Beyond that we would be less likely to come to church looking to be entertained and the more willing we would be to honestly receive from the Lord, repent of sin and allow him to work in our lives. The more likely we would be to look around on a Sunday morning and think “This is just where I need to be. Among people who are broken, hurting, sinful people who are saved by grace and need each other.” And not only that, but have a savior who knows them personally, yet loves them anyway and stands ready to help, and to “...lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Heb. 12:12). Sounds to me like the kind of place honest people would like to come.
So as we go thru some of the Psalms let’s learn to benefit from the whole range of human experience and seek to walk honestly and humbly with each other and be a means of God’s grace to each other.