For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. Psalm 143:3-4
“Why me? It’s not fair!” “How can this happen to me?” “Why would this happen?”
By the time I struggle through Monday, hit the pillow, and then the alarm several times—only to face another workday—these are some of the questions I ask.
Is Tuesday the new Monday? For those of us in the dire straits of an unfulfilling job, it just may be. Most all people dread Mondays. But for people suffering job disappointment, Tuesdays rub Mondays in our face.
How can anyone deal?
Examining the main character in the Bible’s book on suffering is a place to start. In his initial suffering, Job remained firm in accepting both good and evil from God (Job 2:10). But as this most righteous man writhed in the ash heap, even he did not suffer passively. He immediately brought the situation into his relation with God, asking his own Tuesday morning questions: “Why?” “Why did You let this happen?” (Job 7:19-21). “Where is Your justice?” (Job 23:4-7). “Why have You duped me all these years?” (Job 9:18-23).
Because of who Job is, he must relate to God in all of his experiences, which makes his suffering even more gut-wrenching. In fact, it becomes unbearable.
When no meaning can be found in circumstances, humans become discouraged to the point of despair, a situation described throughout Scripture and repeated throughout history.
Like Job, the psalmist too brings the situation into his relationship with God. He trusted God to heal the predicament, but instead he feels robbed of life, abandoned by man, and even worse, abandoned by God. Job hoped God would take him out of his misery, to “let loose His hand and cut me off” (Job 6:8-9). The psalmist cries “I might as well be dead!” Do these two have a lot in common or what?
The greater the suffering and the longer it endures, the greater the feelings of being abandoned, stunned, disappointed, betrayed, and maybe even duped. Any one of these ill-tempered feelings, let alone more than one, creates the perfect condition for anger to brew.
Those struggling in a situation where no meaning can be found can identify 100% with the frustration and anguish of both OT men. We become angry and overwhelmed with the “Why?” Prayer upon prayer lifted to heaven—prayers for a new job, prayers for comfort and strength, prayers for divine levels of endurance. But no relief comes. And we are left to our suffering, compounded by the inability to understand what God is doing, compounded exponentially by the fact that God is our Father. So in the confusion, hurt, frustration, and disappointment, our ill-tempered emotions reach a fever-pitch, red-hot, boiling point anger. And more specifically, anger directed at God.
The first instinct may be to suppress this emotion—since it is such an “unchristian” thing to do. But we need to get real and allow ourselves to feel the anger. There is nothing immoral about emotions as long as they are controlled. Remember the exchange between God and Cain prior to Cain killing Abel:
The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:6-7)
Anger doesn’t have to control us, but it will if we prevent ourselves from feeling it. Have your angry feelings. Connect with them. Own them. Feel them. Release them. And then be done with them. The psalmist, Job, you, me, we are not that different. Even on Good Friday Jesus Christ had His Tuesday a.m. question “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?”
When we cry out to God from the darkest depths of our suffering, like Jesus did on the cross, we bring this thing that torments us into our relationship with God. And the awkwardness of the paradox—like the serpent in Eden—we can’t wrap our minds around. So once again, like so many things in this Christian life, it all comes down to trust.
Trust God. He will enable you to rule over your anger and to be victorious in whatever afflictions and circumstances lead up to it—even though you are/have been/are being crushed. After all, it was the will of God for your Savior, Jesus Christ, to be crushed and to be put to grief (Isaiah 53:10) on your behalf. And since Jesus did it, then you and I can certainly do it, by faith, in Him.
And Tuesdays may be long, but they are not forever.
God, I confess that I have been angry at You multiple times. So many times I have felt like the psalmist—living in darkness like someone who has been dead for a long time. God, I don’t understand. Your Word says that my greatest wisdom is foolishness to You. So I accept my incapacity for understanding Your higher ways. At the exact same time God, I am Your child. And Jesus said, if earthly fathers can give good gifts to their children, how much more your Father in heaven. And here lies my anguish, being crushed between despair and hurt on the one hand, and having a Father Who gives good gifts to His children on the other. Transform my “Why?” into a “Not my will but Yours be done.” In the Name of Jesus Christ Who was crushed on my behalf, Amen.