Read the psalms of lament, but live in the psalms of praise.
APRIL 17, 2023
Read the Psalms of Lament, but live in the Psalms of Praise. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
Being adopted into the family of God is not about doing more or trying harder, it’s about being welcomed by God because of his radical grace, free from the penalties of sin and never alone in your suffering. That grace is what Key Life is all about.
Thank you Matthew. We are, if you were listening last week, we are looking at the subject of control, the mother of all addiction. And, if you were listening, you know there’s some good news, but there’s some bad news. You’ve got to face both. And when you do, you laugh a lot and you cry a lot. And that’s a strange freedom, that God gives his people. There are, and I’ve told you this, there are around 42 Psalms of Lament that give us permission and the words to speak in fact, in our pain and loss. That, and I did the math and I’m a philosopher, not a mathematician, but I counted, that leaves 108 Psalms to cover other subjects. And more than not, those Psalms are Psalms of Praise and Thanksgiving. Psalm 150, the last one, is a Hallelujah chorus of praise.
Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his mighty deeds. Praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the trumpet sound. Praise him with the lute and the harp. Praise him with the tambourine and the dance. Praise him with strings and pipe. Praise him with sounding symbols. Praise him with loud clashing symbols. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Now, I have to restrain myself to not say anything about the worship wars. People in my family heritage, that would be reformed and Presbyterian, believe you don’t use drums and symbols in a worship service. Things must be done decently and in order. And evidently, if you read the last Psalm in the book of Psalms, God disagrees with that. Now, I’m not happy with that. I like Bach rather than Bubba, but the Psalmist says, praise him and make a loud noise. It’s almost as if the Psalmist is saying, after all is said and done, all the tears have been shed, all the laments have been sung, all of the dark has been acknowledged, accepted and processed. God is good and he is good all the time. The addiction to control, and that’s what we’re talking about, isn’t just a wasted effort to fix what isn’t broken, but also an effort to fix what can’t be fixed. Dealing with the addiction is the quid inferorum attack of sanity, that’s Latin for cussing. When you use it, people will think you’re smart and they won’t know that you’re really cussing. Quid inferorum, it means what the “h”. And only a Christian can do that, and that’s what the Psalmist does over and over again. I was glad to help. I did that in a congregation where I was preaching one time and I said to myself, this is stupid. Don’t do this. But I did it anyway. I had the congregation repeat after me quid, and they all said quid. I said, inferorum, and they all said inferorum. And then I told them what they just said. And they were kind of shocked. And then they laughed. And after the service, I was standing at the door shaking hands, and this lady came out and she looked really angry and I thought, oh man, I’m in trouble. And she said, Steve, that’s the first time a preacher ever taught me to cuss. And then she smiled and she said, I liked it a lot. But being that attitude is the attitude of a Christian who has given up control. It’s letting go. It’s the is of what it is, for the Christian, it is far more than that though. It’s the revelation that lament and celebration, have the same source and that source is God. There is a wonderful, in fact, it’s one of the high points of Scripture. Maybe the most important doxological statement in the entire Bible, it’s Romans 11:33 through 36.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Okay. What to do, if my efforts at control have inappropriately stifled my tears and my laughter and both are the stuff of the abundant life Jesus promised, how can I fix that without trying to fix what doesn’t need fixing? Or to fix without trying to fix anything? Or to fix something that can’t be fixed? The simple answer is, and it’s profound. You can’t. And not only that, our efforts to get rid of the addiction to control is a manifestation of the addiction itself. There is no system, even if it’s a Biblical or theological system, that is the medicine that cures us. We hear a lot these days, especially from academic institutions, about safe places. Those safe places are places where there isn’t harassment, no hate speech, disagreements, politically incorrect comments, bullying, meanness, or anything else that makes me uncomfortable. And I might add death, war, and taxes. I wish I could find a place like that. I’d go to it. I really would in a second. The problem is that there isn’t any safe place. Religion, academia, social media, social clubs are not, have never been, and will never be safe places. Okay? There aren’t safe places in the real world. Every day someone has said the world rolls over on top of someone who was just hitting on top of it. Let me give you a radical idea, if you’re a Christian, do what Paul said, rejoice. This is I Thessalonians 5:16 through 18.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
And to make sure that we don’t cancel the radical power of that by pointing out that Paul said in and not for every circumstance, Paul repeats the same admonishment in an even stronger way to the Ephesians in Ephesians 5:19 through 20, he said.
That they should sing and make melody
here it comes
to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I don’t like that a lot, but I’ll tell you something, when you get it, when you begin to say, God, I hate this. I hate what happens to me, I sometimes think you don’t love me, it’s so bad. But I know you’re God and you’re good all the time, so I praise you for it. I may have told you I went to a large church, that had services on Monday nights. I would often travel on week-ends and I needed to be with God’s people. So, I’d go to this church and it was big and nobody knew I was there. I got there early and there was a woman three pews in front of me and she was sobbing. And I remember watching her and thinking, man, she must be going through a hard time. And I prayed for her and then people started coming in and it filled up the places between where she was and where I was, but I could still see her over the shoulders of some people. And they started singing that song. God is good, he is good all the time, and she didn’t even stand. She just sat there and wept. And I watched her as the people sang, and I watched her as she stood up slowly and she raised her hands and joined with a congregation singing God is good, God is good all the time. What happened? God happened. What happened? She gave up control. What happened? She was free. I’m not trying to be silly about your pain, but God is in charge of everything. Praise him. You think about. Amen.
God is good all the time. Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown resuming our tour through the Biblical foundations of his new book, Laughter and Lament. And we’ll discover more encouragement and surprising insights tomorrow when we continue from here. Hope you’ll join us for that. Well, chances are we have never met, but I bet I can guess a few things about you. For one, you’re busy, you work hard to take care of your responsibilities, and two, you love God and love spending time with him, though sometimes it’s hard to fit that time in. We good so far? Then let me bring you back to Luke 10 and two people who embody that same tension, Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, and Martha who stayed busy. Their story is a timely lesson for us today, and Steve spoke about this in a sermon called When the Noise Is Too Loud. If you struggle with busyness, I know it’s going to help you a lot. Get that talk on CD for free by calling 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 CD. Or to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Just ask for your free copy of the CD called When the Noise Is Too Loud. Finally, a question, would you partner 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 simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.