I borrowed this title from a book written by Harold Kushner. He recommends “forgiving God” when we feel hurt/abandoned/rejected/disappointed, etc. with Him. I thought of this book after reading Psalm 88. This psalm describes how we feel when we are in the pits, at our lowest point. The psalmist talks about crying nonstop, living right next to the grave. He continues by stating how he has prayed and cried out to the Lord but to no avail. His pain hasn’t ended. His friends are far away from him, too. The sad part about this is that the psalm ends, and the writer is still in despair.
Sometimes life is that way, and we continue to have pain. It’s like holding two feelings, the pain of some difficulty PLUS joy, peace, and hope. When the pain doesn’t stop, we can still experience other emotions. I recently became aware that I was grieving, never having had natural children. Even though the grown children my husband and I have adopted fulfilled our desire to have a family in every way, I realized that I was experiencing sadness about the natural children we never conceived. I used to think I couldn’t/ shouldn’t have those feelings. I feared that if my children knew, it might hurt their feelings. Sometimes we think we must feel 100% one way and have no room left over for other emotions.
I learned about making room for two viewpoints/attitudes at one time through research I was doing. It is part of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). It is refreshing to understand that it’s ok not to feel 100% about a situation. Getting back to Psalm 88, this psalm might be called a psalm of lament with one caveat. Usually, psalms of lament turn toward what God has done in the past, which brings hope to the writer. This happens in Psalm 77. In verse 11, the psalmist writes, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord” Before this, the theme has been like Psalm 88, one of being in distress and without comfort.
In his blog, markvroegop.com, Mark Vroegop delineates four parts to lamenting: turning to God, expressing our complaints, remembering what He has done in the past, asking for help in the present difficulty and beginning to trust again. I have added the part of recalling what He has already done. Applying this to my situation, I honestly told the Lord my feelings and sadness about my infertility. This included grieving for children not born to my husband and me. In addition, I needed to express anger at being passed over, drawing attention to us and our family because we couldn’t conceive and, as a result feeling like an oddity. After that, I remembered many blessings and ways God has provided and helped me in the past. I began to see that I could also trust His will for my life in this area. In this way, I could lament my sadness but ask God for faith to trust Him more. I feel like the person that told Jesus, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”