Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow and shame. Jeremiah 20:18 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like Jeremiah? Have you ever felt like your entire life was one disaster after another, and it would have been better if you’d never been born? If not, then feel free to skip the rest of this post. And also please sign up for a self-examination class, because you are a Lying Liar from Liarsville. The truth is, everyone feels this way from time to time.
And that’s okay.
The Prophet Jeremiah spent his life urging his Jewish countrymen to repent, only to be shamed, ignored and plotted against. He lived to witness his homeland decimated by Babylon and his people enslaved. His Prayer of Complaint (v. 7-18) is one of the angriest and most vicious prayers ever shouted to the Lord. There are no pretty sentiments here. Jeremiah is boiling mad at God, so much so that he laments even being born. Even worse, the prayer begins with Jeremiah accusing God of duping him with false advertising. Basically, Jeremiah is angrier and more confused than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
And that’s okay.
Too often we think we have to hide our anger from God. Christ taught us to love Our Father with all our heart, soul and mind, but how can that love include our voicing disappointments, accusations and vicious laments? Will God get mad at me if I get mad at Him? Will He turn His back on me if we lose my cool, as other friends have turned their backs when I’ve complained? Or my personal favorite: Jesus died for my sins, so what right do I have to complain about anything? There’s no quicker way to muzzle the Holy Spirit.
So what do we do when we get angry at God for our messy lives? Well, for one thing, we keep talking to Him. Jeremiah’s Prayer of Complaint is a nasty piece of work, but it is still a prayer. Most of all, it is honest. More than anything, Our Father wants us real. Pour out your heart to God in any way that works, even if it’s just raw tears. He’s listening.
Next, remember that the Lord takes the long view of things. Really, really long. Jeremiah was angry because the Babylonian Empire destroyed the Jewish people. To the time-bound prophet, all seemed lost. Yet 2500 years later, God’s people are thriving. However, the Babylonian Empire—not so much.
But if there is one thing I could have said to Jeremiah at the end of his ‘my life is a hot mess’ tirade, I would have told him that his life was not wasted. I’d have said his beaten people would rise up stronger than ever. I’d have shown him how his angry prayer has helped millions of God’s children connect to their Father in the midst of their troubles. I would have told him about Jesus, the resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit and all the wonders that happened after the prophet died.
I’d tell him that it was a very good thing that he was born.
Disasters don’t last. God does. Talk to Him about it, or visit one of the Glennon House prayer ministers to help open the conversation. The Lord wants to hear from you, even if you are yelling at Him at the top of your lungs. And never forget that what appears devastating today might be an important step toward something tremendous in the future.
And that’s very, very okay.