Pity Party and Dark Roast at Caribou

Praising God in good times is really pretty easy.

 

Praising God in the difficult times? Not so easy. But maybe really not too hard either. It’s actually a simple choice. It’s always a choice.

 

I was reading Psalm 44 this morning while sipping my mug of dark roast at Caribou. The psalm writer is feeling abandoned by God. Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I have. A very unpleasant feeling to say the least. The writer goes on to express feeling rejected by God, humiliated, mocked and oppressed by his enemies.  This dude couldn’t get any lower.

 

He goes on to tell God he’d understand his heinous situation if he had been disobedient or forgotten God. But he hadn’t. He had remained faithful, stayed on the straight and narrow – and yet it hadn’t appeared to do him any good.

 

Man, can I relate to that. I am a “rule keeper” kind of guy. I am a “respect your elders” – “submit to authority” kind of guy. Yet there have been many times in my life where there seemed to be zero pragmatic value to my “goody two-shoes” lifestyle. I felt bewildered, alone, depressed, a touch angry. It would appear that God wasn’t holding up his end of the deal. And I succumbed to overwhelming self-pity.

 

Reality check: When did God ever promise me a protective bubble? When did God assure me that my life would be free of all bad stuff? Answer: Never.

 

My twisted, self-righteous sense of entitlement reasons:

 

Being a family man + reading my bible + going to church + being a professional holy man + not cussing or getting drunk + already suffering a lot as a Cubs fan + generally being a pretty nice guy = My life being peachy (99% of the time at least).

 

The truth is I live in a broken, evil, messed up world. I am essentially a broken, selfish person. This world is not my home. The truth is God does not promise my obedience will translate into my own personal Shangri-la.

 

He does promise to always be with me in hard times. He promises to give me the strength to weather the storms. To give me the right words, the right responses.

 

Back to Psalm 44. As bad as he is feeling – as bad as life is at the moment – the writer says:

 

“In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.”

 

Praise is a choice. Always a matter of choice. God is inherently worthy of my praise regardless of my circumstances or feelings. I must choose to praise him at all times.

 

Wow. I look back at what I’ve just written and it seems to be a pretty melancholy post! Lest I be misunderstood, let me say I have a very good life. I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. My walk with God. My wife.  My children. My church. My friends.  Ad infinitum. But there are times where I am blind to it all. All I see and feel is the bad stuff. My point is that even in dark times we who are followers of Christ must choose to praise God and trust in Him.

 

If the author of Psalm 44 can do it – I can do it. And I will.

 

Peace,

Dave

6 thoughts on “Pity Party and Dark Roast at Caribou

  1. Andrea Ray

    Does it count even if you don’t feel it? Cuz it seems like David was feeling it. I do it sometimes, but I don’t feel it.

    1. dave Post author

      Good question Andrea. I think it does count – even if we don’t feel it. I do not get the impression that the writer (sons of Korah) was feeling it at all. Praising God is always the right thing to do because he is always deserving of it. Doing it even when not feeling it is true faith! (and obedience!)

  2. Melissa Reddin

    I totally get where you’re coming from, Andrea. Forceful praise is so unnatural to our flesh. Things aren’t going well+feeling distant from God=no desire to believe God has our best interest at heart and therefore will not be praised. This is a brutal pattern isn’t it? Somehow, we MUST dig deep within ourselves and choose hope. Hope in the fact that this life is just a breath compared to eternity. Although this seems like a cop-out it’s true. The fact is that life stinks and we have to hold tightly to the hope that has been given to us. Without it we will be miserable. Praying for all of us that we can embrace this truth instead of allowing it to push us further from God. He does offer hope and we must choose it. Ah, that feels better….I was talking to myself too!

  3. Anne-Marie

    Hi Dave! I was really moved by this post and so I wanted to respond. There’s something that I’ve been exposed to this last year that has really helped when I am feeling as you describe. It’s actually something that Emily came up with, and our code phrase for it is: Everything’s a Gift. It’s sort of an offshoot of “count your blessings” but it’s less judgemental and more fun. “What if you can wake up and experience the day as opening this fantastic gift God has created just for you?” is the way Emily put it when she explained it to me. And when you look at it that way, you see immediately that it’s so true. Just opening your eyes and seeing all the beautiful shapes and colors–God’s gift to you. And how good it is to eat and satisfy hunger if you are lucky enough to have food, and to be warm and sheltered. How nice it is to be able to speak, hear, listen, communicate. The soft coat of fur on a beloved pet, a sliver of sunlight on hardwood floors. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts.

    Sometimes I think that we are programmed to have “poverty mindset”–to tick off all the ways we are upset or disappointed. But for every disappointment, there are literally thousands of wonderful things God has put in place to protect us, to entertain us, to fill our hearts with love and wonder. The miracle of rain, so necessary and nurturing for growth; the wonder of our limbs and being able to move about at will, if we are lucky enough to do so; the extravagent bounty in every form–so many fruits to choose from! So much music! So much natural beauty! God loves gratitude. If we cannot see the many, many, many things any one of us has to be grateful for, then we become exactly like spoiled children, unable to appreciate the overwhelming good Our Father has provided.

    I think the hardest thing about when bad things happen is that we don’t know why. And it’s true; not all knowledge is ours to be had in this life. What we do know is that everything that happens is God’s will that it be so. We don’t know why, so we have to trust, and trust is hard. Pehaps the “purpose” of the bad times, if there is a “purpose” is twofold: to put the good in greater relief, and also to teach us compassion. I do believe that above all else is the “reason” behind the everyday bad and disappointing things that happen. Because God loves love and equally hates hate. In the end, it’s love and compassion in the face of life’s disappointments that will bring us closer to God, and at peace with ourselves and others.

    Take care and God bless–

    1. dave Post author

      AnneMarie! Great to hear from you. Your words are wise and well-written. Thankfulness is so important. So is our choice too focus on the positive and not the negative. I also think its a bad idea to always try to extract meaning out of every event in our life – leads most of the time to just futile speculation!
      Thanks for checking in!

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