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DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Good grief – ‘For thou art with me’

Lament and grief are a Christian's authentic response to evil.

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Rev. Josiah Hoagland
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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Many of us are outraged and disillusioned by the violence occurring in our world. Between a savage war in Ukraine and shooting violence, we are inundated with reports of hostility and death.

One of the most thought-about theological topics throughout human history is theodicy, which deals with the question of how an all good and powerful God can allow for evil and suffering. The oldest book written in the Bible, Job, wrestles with that very question.

After calamity strikes Job and he loses his children, his wealth and his health, his wife speaks to him in Job 2:9, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”

Job’s response in 2:10 reveals the complexity of divine providence interacting with the human will: “‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

The point of this article is not to solve the tension of God’s responsibility in the face of horrendous evil, but how a Christian can respond to evil. A Christian can respond to evil with the totality of their emotions. A Christian can respond with grief.

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In the book of Psalms, the most frequent genre is lament. At least one third of the Psalms are Psalms of lament – crying out to God in anguish, torment or grief. The people of God have been crying out in grief for millennia. This is an important and critical expression of faith.

In Psalm 22:1-2 we read, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” This is the honest expression of the most famous psalmist, King David.

We are encouraged to bring our honest expression of grief to God because the Scriptures reveal that God can handle our grief. In Isaiah 53:4 we read, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

The Scriptures encourage a vulnerable authenticity with God. He has carried our sorrows and has borne our griefs. The most radical expression of that burden was Christ on the cross.

While expressing your grief will not solve the problems the world is facing, it places the Christian in an emotionally healthier position of transparency, honesty and reliance upon God.

God’s promise to his people is that he will walk with them in their woundedness, “for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

MORE FAITH STORIES:
Faith briefs from area churches.

Related Topics: RELIGIONFAITH
Rev. Josiah Hoagland serves as mission director at CHI-St. Joseph's Health in Park Rapids.
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