I am, by nature, an optimist. My glass always refills to half full. I
look for the potential positive aspects of every downturn, the silver lining
in every cloud, the good that comes even from defeat. (I am a Georgia
football fan: my optimism is hard won.) I am wired to experience the
world in this way. It isn’t better or worse to see the world as an optimist.
It’s just who I am.
There are, however, those who believe that optimism conquers all,
that the power of positive thinking is the way to victory, wealth, and
overcoming every obstacle. I part ways with optimism here, because I
believe there is real value in speaking the truth about frustrations, limits
and losses. The writer of Ephesians is helpful when he writes, Be angry,
but do not sin; don’t let the sun go down on your anger. (4:26) In a world
that mostly traffics in the awful destructiveness of anger, how can this be?
Job shows us. Having lost possessions and health, but worst of all,
his children, Job stands before God and demands answers: Oh, that I
knew where I might find God….I would lay my case before God and fill
my mouth with arguments (23:3-4). This isn’t sunny optimism. It’s rage,
directed at the only one big enough to handle it. Job isn’t timid or quiet in
his faith. He is loud and direct, brushing aside tired answers from his
friends. Jesus must have learned something here, for his faith is this
direct in both Gethsemane and Golgotha.
Is ours? Is our faith strong enough to be this direct with God? If not
now, then when will there ever be a more appropriate time to unleash our
bare, bold, and brazen questions to God? If pandemic won’t force us to
honesty, then nothing will. After preaching on such things in the past, I
have had people tell me straight up that they could not and would not
address God in such ways. Oh, well.
I do. I have wept for my children and frightening possibilities. I am
tired of being afraid to see people. I miss you. I am frustrated and angry
at people who so blithely dismiss my concerns. I am furious and sad and
irritated, all before breakfast on Monday. And don’t send me a consoling
email or give me kind words to soothe the soul. I want God to answer this,
Can you do this yourself? As an act of faith, can you take your anger
and frustration to God, like Job and Jesus did? It is the only way to heal
our souls. Be honest and bold in these days of pandemic.