Be angry, but don’t forget to cry.
FEBRUARY 21, 2023
Be angry, but don’t forget to cry. I’ll explain, on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life with our host, author, and seminary professor Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru. He’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
If you’ve been with us, we’ve been walking a very dark road and I’d forgotten how dark it was in the book that I wrote, Laughter and Lament. And so, last week, and Jeremy, who’s the producer of this broadcast and I were talking about it, it was just awful, you know, it kept getting darker and darker and darker and I thought, you know, I’m going to commit suicide and everybody else is too. And so, that’s the nature of doing this kind of teaching from a book. You don’t have the book in front of you, so you don’t get to the good part. And when I’m teaching a text, there’s always the good and the bad and it balances out. And last week, we just went to the dark place and it kept getting darker. And I hoped I helped a little bit yesterday, but I’m going to do more of it today too. But trust me and stay with me. Lament is a gift of God and it’s given because we have things, real bad things that need lament. And God has given us the words of lament in his book. Now, if you’ve been with us, we’ve talked about the world, this is in a chapter I wrote called Life is Hard and Then You Die. The title of that chapter gives you an idea about what’s in that chapter, it’s really bad. We live in a very, very bad world. And then we talked yesterday that it’s even worse than that, not only is the world bad, you are bad. It’s called radical and pervasive depravity and it’s taught throughout the Bible. When the apostle polls says.
It is the same worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
He added parenthetically
I am the chief of sinners.
He didn’t say I was or I used to be and God fixed me, he said.
I am the chief of sinners.
And in Romans 7, he confesses that in detail. So, we spent some time talking about the nature of sin, and that ought to bother you, it bothers me. But there’s even more. And you say, well, that’s great, that’s all I need is more of this. It’s not just me, it’s the people I love. It is one thing to weep over our sins and quite another to weep over the sins of others. Too often when Christians encounter that which is contrary to God, we express condemnation and shock and judgment. And there is certainly plenty of fodder for that fire, but as I understand it, the how could you is very simplistic and shallow in a self-righteous response. I remember Buddy Greene, the national recording artist, and my dear friend, telling me about the time he watched a pastor weep over a friend’s sins, but he was moved deeply by that and so is God. In our lament over the pain that we feel and the sins that we have committed and the places we have gone, there is also and should be a lament over the pain and the sin of others. Be sure and be angry at sin, but don’t forget to cry. Buddy understood that when he saw his pastor weep over the sins of a friend. So, our lament is over our sin, but it’s also over the sin of others. You can’t experience certain freedom, until you go to a dark place. And the darkness is the darkness of others. Lament isn’t just a personal thing, it’s corporate. And when tears are shed for others, the light begins to shine for all of us. I have some strong social views on abortion and racism and transgenderism and sexuality. In fact, given my Biblical views on those subjects, I’m often angry and offended. And not only that, others are angry and offended at me because this is the ministry of which I’m a part, and I was the founder of it, and nobody can fire me. I can’t be canceled, so I don’t care. And not only that, I am old. And when you’re old, you don’t give a rip. That’s why you ought to listen to old people, they’ll tell you the truth. But my views can really make people angry. When my anger and offense turns to sadness and tears, then I’m moving closer to Jesus who wept over Jerusalem. And when he did, he wept over the entire world. When I see the broken lives, the emptiness, the meaninglessness, it breaks my heart and it breaks the heart of the God of the universe. That’s the stuff of lament and the freedom that only grows in that soil. Using Paul’s template, there is one other place that we need to go, and it’s the realm of Satan and his minions. In my younger days, back when I thought I was an intellectual, I can’t believe I’m telling you this, when I was an intellectual, I couldn’t bring myself to even say the name of Satan. I called Satan, a metaphorical personification of evil. That’s about as far as I could go, but even when I was a young pastor and just beginning to understand, week-ends were often hell for me, and I use that word intentionally. The closer I got to preaching on Sunday, the more I felt useless and fearful and depressed. There were times when I wondered if I even belonged to Christ. My sins were magnified in those times, as were the insecurities I dealt with for years related to being an adult child of an alcoholic. Sometimes during those periods of depression and darkness, my wife Anna would simply bring up the name of Jesus and as she talked about him, a strange thing would happen to me. The heaviness and the depression would lift, and I would have a sense of peace. I’m not sure that I understood what was happening then cause I was an intellectual and intellectuals don’t often understand, but I do now. Luke 10:17 was happening.
Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.
I don’t think most Christians understand the nature of Satan and the destruction that is caused by his evil. Jesus told Peter, and this is Luke 22:31, he said.
That Satan was after him, to sift him like wheat.
And Paul said.
That Satan’s schemes against and tries to destroy God’s people.
Ephesians 6:11. And Peter said.
That we should be aware because
this is I Peter 5:8
your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
The devouring nature of Satan and the incredible confusion, hatred, self-righteousness, and division that comes from Satan’s efforts to destroy anything that is good and beautiful and pure are often dismissed in our post-modern age. Jesus knew better. He said that Satan was a murderer and a father of lies, john 8:44. When you juxtapose that, when Jesus claimed to be the truth, John 14:6, you begin to see the nature of the battle that creates legitimate lament. False narratives about people, about history, about reality are everywhere from the church to the halls of academia. We recently interviewed Preston Sprinkle about his book on transgenderism embodied, and he calls for compassion and understanding and love, but he calls for tears also. It’s everywhere and touches almost everything and everybody, you can see it in passionate, political comments, discussions of social issues, and every aspect of life from birth, abortion to death, assisted suicide. Truth takes a holiday and Satan, as it were, pays the vacation expenses. And so, when you’re talking about lament, it’s not lament just over the world, not just lament over yourself and your own pain and sin. It’s lament as you look at people that you love who are being destroyed by their sin and are being destroyed by Satan. And the source of power is lament. You think about that. Amen.
And that was Steve Brown continuing our exploration of the Biblical foundations of his latest book, Laughter and Lament. And hey, if you’d like to get a copy for yourself or a friend, well just go to keylife.org/laughterandlament or find it on amazon.com or your favorite Christian bookseller. We will continue from right here tomorrow, why don’t you join us? Well, we’re talking about it all this week. Steve’s new book, Laughter and Lament. In a nutshell, it’s all about how laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. Steve shares that speaking honestly about the ways we have been hurt and the ways we have hurt others, opens the door to the joy of God’s presence, even as grieve. Now, here’s something cool, we’ve created a special laughter in booklet with excerpts from the book. Could we send you a copy? Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that booklet. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the laughter and lament booklet. And finally a question, have you ever considered partnering in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.