Years ago, as a young mother of a son with autism and moderate intellectual disability (and the behaviors that accompanied those challenges), I vividly remember being blown away by the Psalms. On hard days I opened my Bible to this section to re-read words that matched my own anger, frustration, and wavering faith in God’s presence. Psalm 13 (The Message) is a good example:
Long enough, GOD—
you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
have looked down their noses at me.
Ashamed of my frustration, depression, and anger, I hid those feelings. Why? I mistakenly believed Christians shouldn’t feel that way! The psalmist’s cry affirmed my feelings. He wasn’t afraid to let God know what was bothering him!
As I read on, I witnessed the psalmist letting God know exactly what he needed:
Take a good look at me, GOD, my God;
I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
or laugh when I fall on my face.
I, too, wanted God to look at me; to let me know He was there for my family; to grant me freedom from the enemy’s lie that autism and a joy-filled life were mutually exclusive; that I wasn’t up to the job of parenting this beautiful but difficult child.
I read still further and found the psalmist’s cries turning into confidence in God. His mourning morphed to celebration, his cry transformed to song:
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers.
I made a decision: that’s how I want to live.
And so I wrote my own Psalm of Lament:
Are you there, God?
Do you care, God?
Why have you abandoned me,
Exiled my family from Easy Street?
My family needs you, God.
Your healing touch,
Your peaceful presence
Your wisdom, truth and power.
In you alone I trust, O God.
You bring light out of darkness,
Streams in the desert,
Water from rock.
You are my strong tower,
My spirit lifts,
I shout for joy!
Try writing your own Psalm of Lament. Believe me, you don’t have to be a writer to do this! Using Psalm 13 as a model, follow the psalmist’s lead and write out your prayer in this form:
Cry: Pour out your heart to God. Don’t hold back. He can take it!
Complaint: Let know God why you’re hurting. Be specific.
Request: Tell God what you want—he wants to know. Jesus tells us to ask for what we need (Matthew 7:7).
Confidence: Let God know that you are confident that He will act in your particular life circumstance; that He is, in fact, acting right this very moment, even if your earthly eyes do not yet see the proof of that action.
Vow: Promise God a new way of living or acting in response to his faithfulness: shout for joy, sing a song of thanksgiving, offer a sacrifice of praise.
Getting honest with God helps us keep honest with ourselves. It’s never healthy to stuff our feelings. Parenting a child with special needs is hard work. But God desires to pull us out of the muck and mire of our emotional pain. God calls us to remember what He has done in our past, what He will do in our future, and what He is doing right now in our present. And then, he calls us to dance.