Psalmists Know God’s Problems
Sometimes in my agony and frustration, I feel like my life is one long lament. Narcissistic, yes, but I know I am not the only one whose spirit has descended to the lowest of low. It can feel hopeless at times. Life lives out a sliding scale between the bottom of the barrel and highest mountaintop times. We find especially in the psalms that speaking our anger and frustrations out is a part of what we are called to do. Holding on to the misery, lashing out, and feeding the bitterness is worse than being angry at God. Giving God that stressful misery – telling him, ‘Hey, I’m so angry at this and that you’ve allowed me to be brought into this,’ and recognising God as an active force in God’s own problems is biblically sound advice. Listen to the psalmist:
Waiting for God to respond had become itself a weary task. This poor person had a rough time – and told God exactly what they thought about it!
My Own Weariness
Recently I drove 1268km (787 miles, approx) by myself with my three young children, the distance from the house in which I grew up to where I’m currently living. With the kids, I couldn’t do it in one day.
For us, the first night in a new place is always full of disturbances. Well, this trip was no different. It started with discovering that I apparently booked a room in a seedy neighbourhood, where people (or were they wolves?) hungrily watched us pull up to park. Feeling unsafe, we took off and re-booked at another place, where our choice was between a room with one bed for all four of us, or a room with a smaller bed for all four of us. We fit, but I spent the night disturbed by my daughter’s constant wakeups, every 45 minutes until about 4am.
It was during one of these wakeups, where I was becoming considerably (emphasis: horribly) less enthused about not sleeping, that I told God, ‘If you want me to make it to church with these kids in the morning, you need to get me some sleep here!’
A little later on, I changed my tactics. ‘Lord, you know that Mass is at 8:30 (AM!) in a town an hour from here,’ I said calmly, but angrily, ‘If you want us to make it there to meet you in the Eucharist, I need one of two things: either I sleep the rest of the night or you make whatever little sleep I get enough to get up and get out of here by 7:15.’
Well, after that prayer, my daughter didn’t wake up again. Surprisingly, I woke up at 6:30 relatively refreshed. I took that as a sign that I should get moving on my end of the promise. We packed, we ate, we buckled, I drove. We made it, and only 10 minutes late.
Not only did we make it to Sunday Mass, but for the rest of the day I did not get tired at all. Typically during the post-lunch drive, I get to a point where I need to pull over and nap or walk around to wake my body up. This time, my kids all napped, but I was happily awake without the typical drowsiness. I kept marveling at it while I was driving. Am I seriously not tired? How am I enjoying the drive so much? Didn’t I only get 3 hours of sleep?!
I started reflecting on my own understanding of God’s grace for me. Yes, I believe, at least in my head, that my cup is overflowing. Do I recognise it in every day life? I admit I don’t – a constant work in progress for me. But then to make a request, which I know to be in line with what the Father wants for me (coming to Eucharist faithfully and with joy), and have it not only fulfilled but far surpassing my expectations? This is something that makes me sit in wonder and awe, aware that I am important enough to God for him to make sure my family and I are present at Mass for him.
Reminding God (And Ourselves) About His Mercy
“According to your abundant mercy,” is a line that speaks to me. Here the psalmist is telling God, ‘I know about you – I know you’re supposed to be merciful. Well, here’s your chance.’
Put it on God. He may not work the wonders that you exactly want. However, God does give us his ear. It’s okay to be angry and give voice to that anger to God. Just as it is okay to be happy and give voice to that. God can take that anger. Sometimes we can get worked up about the details, but God can work beyond our imaginings.
Giving It Over To God
“Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about,” St. Jane Frances de Chantal.
These words from St. Jane (how cool is her name, eh?) ring so true for me. I could have spent the the night stressed about not getting enough sleep (it’s happened before) and coming up with alternate plans for getting to Mass. Instead, I put it all on God. The anger and the resolution. And guess what – he came through. Shocker, right? Maybe it shouldn’t be at this point in my game. But I held my eyes on God and left the doing to him. And he made it all work.
Next time you’re angry or have stressful situations in life, bring your psalm-game on. Give it to God (as in, let it loose on him) and ask him to work out the details for you. He may change a situation, work a miracle, pursue someone else’s heart, or change your own heart from stone to flesh. He has given us his ear. As children of the Most High, we have familial right to our Father’s ear.
In case we need another saint’s weigh-in, we have famous words from St. Pio of Petreclina:
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
Have you offered your stressful situation to God?
Give God ownership of the situation and allow him the room to change it or you.
Copyright Jane Korvemaker (2017).