Expressing Deep Emotions To God
The book of Psalms is probably the most well known and certainly the most well read book in all the Bible. Written by over eight different men and over a one thousand year period of time, the book spans the entire history of the nation of Israel and then some. Many people view the book as merely a collection of 150 different psalms or poems – and it is that. But, it is also so much more!
Psalms means praise and while the book is full of them, the entire book taken as a whole is also a praise to the faithful goodness of God! It is broken down into five different “books,” or sections, and it has a two chapter introduction at the beginning and a five chapter conclusion, or doxology of praise, at the end.
Woven throughout are three different genres of Psalms. The hymn psalm is a full blown praise of God for the fact that all is well and then almost always moves on to praise God for who He is. The psalms of lamentexpress distress and despair and come from a place of pain and hurting. They often ask God “why” and call on Him to intervene and rescue. Interestingly, 56 of the 58 lament psalms also end with a note of confidence and hope in God for who He is and with a promise to praise God when the trouble is over. Finally, the psalms of thanksgiving expressly thank God for His deliverance, healing, or rescue.
The truly amazing thing about these Psalms is that they give voice to nearly every human emotion and feeling known to man ranging from despair and utter anguish, to worry and fear, to rejoicing and exhilaration. If you need words to pray to God, look no further than the Psalms!
Have you ever been so down you have said, ‘My tears have been my food day and night?’ Well, a Psalmist has (Ps 42:3). Have you ever felt like the water was coming up to your neck and that the flood was going to sweep over you? Again, a Psalmist has (Ps 69:1-2).
If you want to know how to express your grief, your frustration, or your hurt to God in a way that still honors God, look no further than to the laments. Not only will they give you a voice and a vocabulary, just as importantly they will also help shape and guide your emotions as they provide a framework bounded by God’s goodness, His sovereignty, and His commitment to those who are His. Praying the Psalms will help walk you through your difficulty.
The next time the Lord ordains that hardship comes your way, I would encourage you to pray one of the lament Psalms to God as if it were the cry of your heart. Let Him know your pain, your frustration and your hurt. Also let Him know your commitment to make much of Him even during the pain and that you stand ready to praise Him as He sustains you through it and as He delivers you from it at the end. God is there for you and He has graciously provided the psalms of lament to comfort you.
Here is a list of many of the Psalms of Lament: Psalms 3, 5, 6, 7, 13, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 38, 39, 42, 43, 44, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 74, 79, 80, 83, 86, 88, 89, 102, 109, 120, 130