I have been afraid of being real at times. Afraid of honestly saying how I felt when I was angry, really frustrated or ticked off at God. I’ve felt let down, passed over, mistreated and not supported at times. Things haven’t gone my way at times, I’ve felt mistreated at times - from God and people. I’ve felt like punching something, kicking something, yelling at something, quitting everything and going away, finding something else to do and others to live life with. I’ve yelled at God through my sunroof, frustration spilling over into a rant of blame cast into the sky at the invisible and silent God. I’ve then waited for lightning to strike.
I’ve read the complaints of David that became scripture. Read the whining, sometimes faithless cries of heroes in weak moments. I’ve also seen the stressless ease of the wicked, watched the godless have incredible favor and promotion. I’ve scratched my head at the success of those who do wrong and the struggle and difficulty of those who do right.
David had the same observation:
“Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure. And washed my hands in innocence; For I have been stricken all day long. And chastened every morning.” Ps 73:12-14
Jeremiah, that prophet with a very thankless mission, complained. After being thrown in pits, imprisoned and mistreated for simply doing what God asked him do, he had had enough. He said to God:
“Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you indeed be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail and are uncertain?” Jeremiah 15:18 AMP
Jeremiah felt that God was uncertain, not to be trusted. When he had been obedient and done right, he was not listened to, mistreated and suffered.
Both David and Jeremiah complained (sometimes called prayer) to God about what they observed and how they felt. They said it honestly, and there was no lightning. No piano falling from the sky crushed them. They complained and were honest. God listened, and He answered. To David, God revealed the reality of the plight of the wicked who were temporarily successful, but devastated in the long term. God adjusted David’s perspective to see with big eyes and elevated view, not glimpses of a moment in time.
For Jeremiah, God spoke and answered His question audibly: “Therefore thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah]: If you return [and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair], then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety, and you will be My minister; and if you separate the precious from the vile [cleansing your own heart from unworthy and unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness], you shall be My mouthpiece. [But do not yield to them.] Let them return to you—not you to [the people].
And I will make you to this people a fortified, bronze wall; they will fight against you, but they will not prevail over you, for I am with you to save and deliver you, says the Lord.
And I will deliver you out of the hands of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the palms of the terrible and ruthless tyrants.” Jeremiah 15:19-21.
I’ve realized two things. One, God is fine with honesty, with the expression of what is in our hearts. He knew it was in there anyway – it wasn’t a secret when we swore internally. Secondly, I’ve realized that what I often feel about God is a deception on my part. The truth is that we may get passed over, we may be mistreated, may suffer, may not get our way. That is actually the plan. The calling for anyone who follows Jesus into the adventure of the unknown is not easy, and not supposed to be. We were actually told this would happen and it happened to Jesus. While Jesus suffered on throughout the crucifixion process, there were many rich men at peace, eating well, surrounded by pleasure. But we were also told that unlike the wicked, we can house the Spirit of peace, comfort, truth, life and power in the midst of every mistreatment and treachery, and we get to be counted in the company of the saints that have gone before us who rejoiced when they were mistreated. We have an eternal residence built by our Savior and He will never leave us or forsake us.
Like Jeremiah, we must jettison our ‘mistaken tone of mistrust and despair’ and evict all ‘unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness’ because He is faithful to a thousand generations and always will be.
The truth is that God is ok with gut level honesty, but He is also one who will help expose the deception, selfishness and lies that we have bought into because He came to set us free, to heal our hearts, to renew our minds and give us eagles eyes to see from way up high, where the sun shines, the air is clear and our future is beautiful and lasting.
(For more on this topic, I’m happy to give you “Hope Restored” at no cost. You can request it through Awake Church)
Matt is the Lead Pastor at Awake Church, as well as the founder of the water supplying organization Hydrating Humanity. Matt lives in North Carolina with his beautiful wife Debbie and their five sons. He is an avid storyteller who often shares his own adventure-packed history as well as stories of others that have inspired him.