My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.
When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah. (Psalm 77:1-3)
Since Audra and I lost our first daughter Melody, we have read through the Psalms over and over. I tend to skip over the ones that talk about things like "the tongue of your dogs having its portion from your enemies" (Psalm 68:23), because that is not particularly comforting during family Bible time before bed. The imprecatory Psalms have a place; they honestly articulate feelings that we all have toward certain people and situations. But other Psalms are more helpful in other situations.
I appreciate the expression of frustration with God in Psalm 77: "When I remember God, then I am disturbed." Sometimes thinking about God brings me feelings of comfort or peace or hope. But sometimes thinking about God brings feelings of discontent or disappointment. Questions pop up about things that have happened or not happened in my life, and I wish I had clear answers. The Psalmist asks those questions frankly:
Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah. (Psalm 77:7-9)
As the author begins to reflect on the wonders God has performed in the past, that helps him keep his trials and tragedies in perspective. But having an expectation for eventual relief does not completely resolve current pain and perplexity, at least not for me.
I choose not to identify myself as a Calvinist, dispensationalist, or any other systematize-the-Bible-completely-ist. One main reason is that these schools of thought try to explain too much about God and why he works the way he does. The Bible tells us what we need to know, but it leaves some mysteries unsolved, some questions unanswered.
Is God offended when people ask him hard questions? I'm convinced that God wants us come to him with our doubt and disappointment. One of the hard questions is why he doesn't give us clear and simple answers to our hard questions. But for some reason that is part of the journey we must walk.
It's hard for me to believe that God has an eternal purpose behind all of the yucky stuff that happens in this world. But it's easier than believing that the yucky stuff is all we have to look forward to.