I’ve noticed a funny thing about Christians – well, one of several funny things to be honest – and that it that we find it really hard to admit when we’re finding things tough. I’m in my 23rd year of being a Pastor and I can draw on countless occasions (many at the door at the end of a service) when I’ve asked people how they are, knowing that they’re having a tough time, and they’ve come out with something that sounds very spiritual but is blatantly not true – in the first church I pastored, in London, our lovely African-Caribbean folk would say “I’m blessed and highly favoured Pastor, thank you”; in the second, a more middle class and white church, the response was “I’m fine thank you”.
Is this because people say what they think the Pastor wants to hear them say? Or is it because we don’t want to admit that as Christians we’re not living in the victory every moment of every day? or are we so afraid of being vulnerable that we don’t trust someone enough with an honest answer? Maybe it’s just me and the effect I have on people…Answers on a postcard please!
I want to encourage you that it really is OK to not be OK – that’s not just a slogan for renew Wellbeing or for King’s Corner, it’s something I think we all need to hear. And I want to encourage us all to be honest about how we are feeling – to ourselves, to others, and to God. It’s ok to tell God things aren’t ok – remember Jehoshaphat a couple of weeks ago? (2 Chronicles 20) – or go to the Psalms, which are full of whatw e calls “Psalms of Lament”- both communal and personal – where the Psalmist tells God exactly how he or the community is feeling – for example psalms 12, 44 and 90 are communal; 13, 22, 42, 43, 86 are personal. There are lots more you can find if you look. They are all brutally honest, often complaining to God about the way things were, and they “express intense emotions, real human struggles, and the anguish of heart experienced by the people of Israel as they lived out their faith individually and corporately.” (Got Questions, “What Are the Psalms of Lament?”).
What’s not ok is when we let being not ok take over our lives. Every Psalm of Lament ends by pointing to God, declaring trust in Him, and praising Him. That’s a pretty good model to trust. God loves it when we are honest with Him (so do Pastors, really!) because that then allows Him to work.
So – be true and honest about how you feel, especially the longer the lockdown continues. Be kind to yourself and look to the Lord for answers. And if a certain Pastor asks you how you are, please do tell him. At the very least, “When you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark.” (Arttributed to Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland”).
God bless, stay well