Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to have a good Pity-Party

Some days are meant for pity-parties. I mean it. Some days, you just need to throw something or cry into a pillow because life is too hard. You know how to have a good pity-party. Just let somebody try and stop you. Two boxes of tissues, 2 candy bars, and maybe some uncontrolled behavior.

The downside to a pity-party is the aftermath. On top of feeling overwhelmed, pitching a fit provides very temporary relief; it might even reinforce your feelings of desperation.

I love reading the book of Job on those occasions when life seems unfair because you can't read about Job's life without feeling a little bit of relief. You just can't. Job had it worse than anybody I know, and it happened in one fell swoop. Talk about unfair.

Let me share one of Job's laments with you, so you can feel at least justified in having Biblical tantrum. I must point out one interesting fact, however. What makes this lament usable is that Job is taking his frustration to God. He's really not taking it out on God or on anybody else. He knows that only God can help him, and when the big complaint is over, Job sits and waits for God to intervene. (And he waits a really long time. And throws a few more tantrums. And has more pity-parties. But who wouldn't?)

Here's how this one went, in my modern paraphrase (Job 3):

"I should never have been born! Or I should have died in childbirth! At least now I'd be sleeping peacefully instead of never sleeping.
Why bring me into this world and let me experience joy, and then snatch it away from me? Who does that? That's just cruel!
I want to die, but instead, you're killing everyone I love! I have to live on in misery alone!
What kind of God are you?
I've always been afraid something like this would happen, and now it has! I can't believe I trusted you. I thought you loved me.
I will never be happy again."

Ever say anything like that? I have. It doesn't feel spiritual at all--and certainly not prayerful.

Except that it is. It's a lament. It's crying out to God instead of just crying. It's looking up instead of looking around.

And that's a good place to start when life stinks.