By Caleb Bobrycki
Ever read the Psalms? One really does not have to go far to see how intensely the Psalmists felt dark days. I am so thankful to God that he made sure to put the Psalms in the Bible: they are raw, yet undefiled, emotion. Here we see pure pain and anguish, and yet, not corrupted by the normal trajectory of the human heart, rather aimed at the Most High God. Normally when those days come, we get angry, bitter, passive aggressive, cynical, and/or emotionally imbalanced and sensitive; we act in our flesh. The Psalms are calling us to feel emotion the appropriately, on purpose, and toward God. There will be days when we simply jam our fingers, and within seconds we are on the ground in a pool of tears; the Psalms are calling us to cry to God while we are on the floor.
I recently realized that, one way to put it is, security in God looks like insecurity to the world. The world wants to deal with things on their own, not depend on another or be governed by someone higher than they. The thought of turning frequently to Christ in with a churning stomach, crying out for help in seasons of distress, is what really churns the stomach of the world. I have a few reasons for this pulled from different texts that have massively impacted my life over the years. When the Church prays, the world sees her depending, and dependence is seen as a weakness; they see her depending on things she does not see, which seems unstable; and they see a lack of freedom in surrendering to God.
The World Sees Dependance as Weakness
Psalm Three. That’s how far you have to go into your copy of the Psalms in your Bible to find someone crying out to God, sounding, to the world, like a whining child who fell off a bike. Verse one says, “How many are my foes! Many are rising against me.” The world, and your flesh in times of trouble, calls this narcissism; and yet Christ felt this more than anyone else could, and no one would dare call him such. “Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.” How many people actually said there was no salvation from him? I do not find “many” saying this in the Bible. This is written when David flees from his son, Absalom, who is trying to kill him. What is so striking is that David may not have heard with his physical ears many, if any, say those actual words, seeing as how he fled society for his life. But he feels those thoughts deep down, the thoughts of people against him. And God, in his mercy, allowed the painful feeling that David felt from people possibly saying evil things about him to be recorded in his infinitely valuable Scriptures.
Verse three continues, "But you, O LORD, are a shield about me.” There it is. There is the difference between narcissism and depending on God. Narcissism is the insanity of circularly feeling others’ malicious thoughts, with no end; it is shot through with self, from beginning to end. But, dependance on God starts with malicious thoughts, feels it deeply, cries out to God honestly, and confesses that ultimately it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter! Not simply because it doesn’t matter, which is just a selfish as circularly thinking about it, but because “The LORD is a shield.” Those words have been balm to my soul in dark days. May they be so to you.
The World Sees the Church Depending On an Imaginary Friend
“The world cannot receive [The Spirit of Truth] since it does not see him” (John 14:17). We look even more childish to the world and our flesh when we consider that we cannot see God. “The lifeblood, warp and woof, and bulwark of your life, is some imaginary friend? That’s cute. Let us know when you grow up.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1 that God chose what is foolish in the world to confound the wise. “The weakness of God is stronger than men” (25). Here we go again. God chose weakness to be the power of the church. The world laughs at the church, as though they have the secret, they are the adults, and we are the helpless little sheep who do not know how to handle pain.
But the joke's on them. And may our hearts ache for them to know it. May the world know that after a hard day, humans were not created to shrug off pain. Do not shrug it off. Shrug it off and your heart will harden; and hard hearts look strong to the world, but to God they look like tomb stones. Do not be hard. Be pliable, and run to God with everything.
To the World a Praying Church Has No Freedom
“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). These are shocking words from Job’s wife. The world and our flesh look at the Church praying like children and see no freedom. Where is the liberty in taking matters to God? There is no fun in running to some greater being about all our problems. It is much better, and more interesting, to be God. How does praying make a good biography? the world thinks. Abraham Lincoln may have been known for many things, but it was not primarily praying. Praying and crying out to God over all problems is a waste of time and really is just sad.
But notice Job’s reply, and remember the above passage from Corinthians, “You speak as one of the foolish (worldly) women would speak. Shall we receive good from God and not evil?” (Job 2:10). Amen, Job. May we be like that. The world thinks crying day and night (Psalm 88:1) to God is weak and maybe even literally mental, but the foolishness of the world is the wisdom of God.
“O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you” (Psalm 88:1). Your flesh reads that and wants to vomit. Cry every day and night? Make mountains out of mole hills to God every day? Yuck! But I say to you, “Put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). You may say that God has got much greater things to do. And I say, “In everything make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6). But the world does it the complete opposite way, you say! Your Older Brother says, “[The Church] is not of the world, [Father]” (John 17:16).