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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, April 13, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 4   

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
   You gave me room when I was in distress.
   Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
   How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself;
   the Lord hears when I call to him.

When you are disturbed, do not sin;
   ponder it on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices,
   and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
   Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart
   more than when their grain and wine abound.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
   for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. (NRSV)

I’ve always been struck by the absence of the word please in the psalms. I was raised to say “please” when asking someone to do something, especially if that someone was an authority figure. The absence of that word makes it sound to me like a demand instead of a request: answer me, give me relief, have mercy on me, hear my prayer, fill my heart with joy, etc.

Like the psalmist, there have been times in my life when I’ve not used “please” in my prayers. When I’m hurting and confused, I don’t ask nicely. I demand answers. And then I feel even worse for being angry with God.

I recently heard a clergy member speak about whether it’s OK to be angry with God and, to my amazement, the answer was yes. There will be times when I don’t understand God’s plan for me, when I don’t understand why everything’s falling apart, and why it seems that God doesn’t hear my cries. In those moments, it’s not surprising that I get angry. Fortunately for me, God is strong enough to handle my anger and doesn’t love me any less because of it.

I’ve found it’s helpful to give myself permission to be angry with God. It can be cathartic and healing to lean into those feelings and express them. I’ve also found comfort in the knowledge that I can ask God for understanding and to strengthen my faith and remind me that God always has my best interests at heart, even when I don’t understand.

Merciful and compassionate God, your love for us is unconditional. Even when we’re angry with you, you continue to walk with us. Strengthen our faith so that we can see past our anger, hurt, and frustration and trust that you know what’s best for us. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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