A Healing Community
It has been interesting moving back to the south. We have been out of it for 15 years. One of the first things we noticed when we moved here is people wave to you in your neighborhoods. We didn’t know what to do at first. People would wave and we would just kind of look at them. The kids asked, “Dad, why do people wave when we go by.” I said because they care. I think that is the right answer.
But another thing we have noticed is that while people say hello, and anyone will talk to you, it doesn’t seem that people go very deep. It also doesn’t seem that people are comfortable sharing the uncomfortable parts of life.
This seems prominent among Christians too. It is a sense that you can’t say what is really going on, where you are really struggling. Put on your Sunday best. It is hard for people in any culture to share their hurts. It requires vulnerability. I think the church needs to be different.
Many say the reason depression and mental illness is so rampant is increased expectations of people and decrease in genuine community leads to the inability to share hurts. This can cause other problems.
Some have said that when we don’t properly deal with our emotions they get amplified. Ignoring emotions doesn’t make them just go away. They increase. They get stronger. The hurt hurts more.
Psychologist Susan Davis said, "emotional suppression shows that when emotions are pushed aside or ignored they get stronger. It’s like the chocolate cake in the fridge that when you ignore, the pull gets stronger. Internal pain always comes out. We pay the price.”
There are various reasons for this suppression of emotions. People don’t think they can or should do it. Breakdown of families and communities where you truly know others. FAcebook and social media communities in which there is only the shell of relationships.
People have a need for real community. I want us to be a people that are willing, able, comfortable to share our hurts and hardships with others. I want us to be a church that can care for people when they share their burdens with us. I want us to do this because its how God made us and when you read the Bible you see people admitting hurt and finding healing.
I want to look at a psalm today in which we see a man with an open, honest, and heartfelt outpouring of his soul to God.
Big Idea: Trust in God allows us to share hurts and find healing
Sometimes we get hurt and we need band aids. Sometimes people hurt us and it doesn’t just hurt outside. It hurts on the inside. We need healing in our souls.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. (Psa 13:1 ESV)
I want to look at three things here that inform our walk with God and further Christian community.
- Transparency with Hurt.
It is hard to read these words. You almost feel like you are walking in on someone having a tantrum and they don’t know you are there. You feel like you shouldn’t be hearing it, but God has it here so that you do.
Transparency means to see through. A window is transparent. It allows light through. David is transparent with his hurt. He does not hide it, he does not mask it, it is not ashamed of it. We will see he is confident in God and confidence in God allows us to reveal our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
This psalm is a psalm of lament, that means it is a psalm where a complaint is brought to the Lord. Of the 150 psalms in the Bible 67 are psalms of lament.
He brings a series of questions. They are not four different questions but essentially one: Why does it feel God has deserted me? An enemy has prevailed against him. He is sorrowful, he feels forgotten. To turn the face is like our expression “He won’t even look at me.” It is to feel displeasure. There is in agony.
There is something good about hearing another voice their struggle. Groups like AA use this pattern as a means to help others. As one shares struggles it encourages others to share theirs. It is one of the few organizations that sees significant change in people.
In two verses he has stated his problem. Many times we run around in anger not even knowing what we really want. If someone asks what’s wrong we can’t express it. We couldn’t write it in a sentence. Something to be said for the clarity here. Healing typically begins once we know the real problem.
Do you believe it is OK to express your emotions? Do you go to God with your hurts? This is not your typical church service. We usually think
- Don’t complain. There is a place for that but sometimes this is how we cry for help, and receive help.
- put on your Sunday best, that includes your clothes and your exterior disposition. When things are hard you skip small group or Sunday school, if you go don’t let anyone know. You tell people to pray for your cousin’s brother’s pancreas. That’s a fake community. People do not see church as an open and honest commmunity. It should be. How can we not be when writings like this stand at the core of our faith. You need to share honestly.
This is a Psalm, and it is included in the sacred hymnal for the Israelites. It is written by David and addressed to the choirmaster. This song was intended for their worship service! They had a very different approach to the dark times. It also shows how God can redeem our dark moments so that we might sing his glory.
Great movie a few years ago called “Inside Out.” It is about the thoughts and emotions in a young girls head as her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Her emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust are all represented by characters and these emotions try to help her navigate through life. For much of the movie the character Joy (stand for the emotion of joy) is trying to suppress the character Sadness. Joy will not let sadness express herself. It is not until the end that you see so much damage was done because Sadness was suppressed. When sadness expressed itself others came to help. When we express our laments to God and to others, that is often how we receive help.
When you cry your mom comes near. When you hurt a friend comes in. But only if you are willing to be vulnerable. Only if you have real relationships.
Some of you have been hurt and you won’t let anyone in. You keep relationships superficial. It starts to get real and you change the topic, you walk outside, you shut it down. And you are dying on the inside.
Many people bottle it in and refuse to acknowledge it or talk about it. It’s like a dam building up in a person. The pressure is killing them, always with them. Depression. Anger
Emotional health involves being able to answer peoples questions truthfully, directly. Your not being evasive. Some people you want help, you want help, you want help, and then you push them away. You deflect.
Answer your mom’s questions. Its ok if you need time to process. Ask for time. Genuinely reflect on it. Bring others into your life.
My experience with God.
Honesty with God leads to honesty with others.
One last thing on this point. Church, are you surprised David would say this? Are you surprised a spiritual leader might say such things. If David the worship leader struggles like this how might your neighbors be feeling. If you dont know them they probably seem find. The more you get to know people the more you see their struggle. You don’t know their struggles because you don’t know them. If you want to be used by God then take time to get to know the people around you. People hurt, even the good Christian. Are you taking time to know your friends? Would you share your struggles with them. Would they be comfortable sharing their struggles with you.
- Dependence on God.
This is honest, raw, transparent wrestling with God. But it is not without faith. It is struggle characterized by faith.
In verse 3 he prays. Despite his anguish he prays. He depends on God. he humbles himself. The psalms show a person’s inner struggle of knowing a loving God and living in a fallen world. He suffers and waits and he waits and prays.
But also notice what comes out of David. There is an old saying that you do not know what is in someone until they get squeezed. David is squeezed and what comes out.
V 3 he prays to the Lord his God. To yahweh. The God who is there, who will be there.
His prayer is also an echo of Numbers 6, the quintessential prayer of the Old Testament. “Look on me, answer me give light to my eyes.” He is asking God to give the blessing he has promised. Numb 6:24-26
It’s an acknowledgement that God can bring the life he wants. If God lights a man’s eyes it matters not what his enemies do. The truths of Scripture are such an anchor and guide! Sinclair Ferguson said,
Liquid society. You need something to anchor you in life. It is not just emotional pouring out to God.
We ought to have the word in our heart as a solid rock. Spurgeon, “As the shipwrecked mariner clings to the mast so David did cling to his faith.”
Transparency with hurt and dependence on the word lead us to be
- Transformed by God’s Promises.
Notice the change from the beginning to end. David begins many of his psalms with sighs and groans but ends with claps and praises.
Transform is to change, it is to cross over from one form to another. The form of sadness gives way to the form of praise.
In this passage notice the the words like wrestle and sorrow yield of verse 1 yield to verbs like trust, rejoice, sing. There is a change in him. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psa 30:5 ESV). This is the story of your pain, your hurt, if you trust in Christ.
V 6 he says he will trust, and the emphasis in this verse is that he trusts in “the steadfast love of God.” That is God’s covenant love. David had access to God because God bound himself to people through a promise.
God made a promise to his people, that if they followed him and obeyed him, he would be their God, he would be with them, he would bless them, and bring them into a good land. That was what David clung to. God’s steadfast, faithful love would continue. God would love because he promised and not because David deserved it.
As David remembers this it changes his circumstances.
This is the promise we have in Christ. That in Christ all wrongs will be made right and that in him nothing can keep us from the loving smile of God almighty. The Father turned his face away from Christ. He took our judgement, our sin, our darkness. In Christ a new covenant is made, we have an anchor for our life and soul.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
God didn’t promise life would be easy. In fact he said there would be opposition, hardship, darkness, demons and everything else, but these thing cannot, will not keep us from the love of God.
In Christ all things work together for our good, even our darkness. That is the hope we have. We need to preach this to ourselves. We forget too easily.
It is said that when Martin Luther was going through a difficult time his wife showed up wearing all black. When Luther saw here he exclaimed “Who died?” fearing that he had missed some news. She responded that based on the way Luther was acting God must have died. I’m sure we can all relate. We need to preach truth to ourselves rather than rehearse how we are feeling.
Preach to ourselves. Be patient with others. We cannot force anyone to believe. We need to be patient with wounded people.
These things take us deeper in our relationship with God. I wish I did not have to go through the trials I have been through, but I know God more because of it. His promises are more precious. His reward better than anything the world can offer.
V6 David begins singing even before his circumstances have changed. He says he will sing, but there is no time change from v1 to v6. No answered prayer. The only thing that has changed is his perspective.*** We don’t just need external needs met. We have things going on inside our heart that need to be dealt with. God is shaping us with our hardship.
Arrow in head prop.
We need to be a community that doesn’t just value people for what they can do. Great to have you. CAn you set up the stage? But we value people for who they are. We care for their hurt. We ourselves are focused on being changed by God. We embrace the hardships as God changing us.
And when people share with us treat that like fine china. Pray for them. Let them know you are thinking of them.
Sometimes sharing our hurts to God brings healing, sometimes God hears our honest prayer request, sometimes we share hurts with others and they give us wisdom and perspective that guides us. We have to watn change more than we want anything else. We have to want God more than we fear all the other things. When that happens we are becoming a redemptive community that is healthy and can both receive and help the hurting in the community.
It doesn’t mean every person you talk with you share the deepest darkest details of your life. But it doesn’t mean that you are building real relationships…
- What is David’s complaint and how does he express it? Why is this transparency helpful?
- How does God’s word anchor him and us in the midst of hardships?
- How does this psalm point us to be a healing community? How are you at sharing your struggles? How are you at hearing others share their struggles?