Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. –Psalm 102:1-2
My mother died recently. She was a godly woman who at 91 was struggling with memory loss. She knew her family, and she knew her Lord; her prayer was that He would take her home before she forgot those she loved. God answered that prayer, and I am feeling the loss. It is an easily identifiable pain—a sadness of heart.
Years ago I left a successful career path in response to God’s call to another. As that call became clear, I had to decide to leave something I loved to do another good thing. And it was a good thing, and once again God blessed me with a measure of success. But months into the new position I experienced another sadness of heart, this one less identifiable. It took me a while before I realized that I was subconsciously mourning the loss of my previous situation.
Today I talked with a friend. His work is going well but it is taxing his family, he fears to the point of breaking. He wants … no he needs to make a change. He sounded almost desperate as he shared how his situation is breaking his heart.
There is great joy in the gospel—the good news that Jesus saves us from our sins. But Jesus does not promise that there will not be sorrow along the way. To the contrary, Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
It is not sinful to weep at the death of a loved one, to mourn the loss of happy situation, or to grieve in the midst of trying circumstances. It is not clear who wrote Psalm 102, but the author understands sorrow. Charles Spurgeon described Psalm 102 as “a prayer far more in spirit than in words.”
The Psalms contain many moving expressions of lament, Psalm 102 being one of my favorites. When you experience loss, turn to the Psalms. They will help you give voice to your sorrow.
Dr. Ken A. Smith (Dean, McLane College of Business)