Throughout the psalms, we learn about the discipline of lament. Seldom engaged. Mostly misunderstood. Why are we so surprised by trouble, why do we not turn to God when trouble comes, and why are we so reluctant to risk lamenting?
Lament includes asking, and answers come from asking.
“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! Psalm 20:1
In lament we turn to God, complain to God, ask of God, and trust God no matter what. Doggedly. Psalm 20 begins with the blessing that God will answer you in the day of trouble. Asking is assumed; he answers those who ask.
If you’re facing loss, you have need for a new normal. Ask God to lead you and guide you for his name’s sake. Not your name’s sake. His name. He will be your rock and fortress to honor and make known his own name (Psalm 31:3). That name—the name of the God of Jacob—will guide you and protect you.
“May he send you help…give you support…remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! …May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!” Psalm 20:2-5
He answers our request by sending help and giving support. He remembers our offerings, and he gives favor for our sacrifices. He grants our heart’s desire and fulfills our plans when we ask in agreement with his kingdom, his will, and his ways. He fulfills the petitions of his people.
Our response? We shout for joy because of his salvation and in the name of our God we set up banners to praise him.
Pain and complaint give rise to requests, and requests are answered. We are invited to make our petitions known. The Lord responds and saves his people. He answers from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
Faith is reinforced. You just have to know where to place your faith.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.” Psalm 20:7-9
Faith in itself is of no value. The object of our faith is what is important. If you’re facing loss, the object of your faith matters. Are you trusting in your own strength? Are you trusting in escapes from the pain of loss? Are you tempted to self-medicate with distractions or worse? Are you trusting in mere chariots or horses?
Avoid, at all costs, any temptation to trust anything other than the name of the Lord. Chariots and horses, while strong, are not strong enough. Those foundations collapse and fall. Unstable. Mere facades. If we trust in the name of the Lord, we will rise and stand upright. We can stand on his name’s foundation with confidence.
“This is my Father’s world: O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” Maltbie D. Babcock, “This is My Father’s World”
There are answers in the day of trouble. You simply have to ask. Turn to God. Complain to God. But make sure you ask of God. And then, regardless of the answer, place your confident trust in God.
And remember and hold fast to what you know to be true. Remind yourself. Again.
“Let me beg you to remember that Jesus Christ is still alive. Simple as that truth is, you need to be reminded of it.” Charles H. Sturgeon, The Power of Prayer