We have been looking at the story of Hannah, and there is much more we can learn from her. But I’d like to take some time to look at those wilderness years through other eyes, as part of a series on “turmoil”. How do we relate to God while going through trauma? You might resonate with the cry, “How long, O God?”

In the midst of deep anguish, hanging on for dear life, attacked by those around him, David cried out to God. Just as Hannah did a generation earlier:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?1

If you have ever echoed this cry, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the very best of company.

One of the things I love most about the Psalms is the way they share with us the unsanitised worlds of people who are struggling. Even more: these prayers and songs were treasured and collected by God’s people as examples of valid worship. They are God’s gift to us. Yet in our Christian communities it is a rare, (and beautiful), thing when we find permission to have, let’s call it, a “vigorous” relationship with God.

 

Intimacy requires authenticity

How can you have deep intimacy with God when you need to hide the parts of you that are messy or avoid conversations with him that are difficult? Intimacy requires authenticity.

It does also requires safety, and respect for boundaries. Consent is vital. God will not force you to tell him things. Neither will he rush you.

The path chosen by many of the psalmists and others in the Bible is raw honesty. Many of them asked the same question: “How long, O God?” So you are invited, if you hate what is happening to you, to let him know. Be as raw as you need to be. Vigorous. Angry, tearful, despairing, hurt, sad – whatever. Neither is there any rule that you need to have negative feelings towards him. Just tell it exactly how it is, as best as you can. How are you going with it? How do you feel about him? About what has happened or is still happening? What do you want? Use whatever words are necessary to get to the point where you feel you have laid your heart bare. He is the God of the universe. He can take it.

 

God is different from abusers

Honestly, if you are anything like me you may have some anxiety about how God might react. The last thing I want is to tell God how desperately I want him to be present with me, only to have him turn away because I said it wrong. And if you have experienced abuse, you might be well practised at walking on eggshells.

But God is not like that. No matter how confusing it might be to know God in the midst of trauma, we are faced with the dilemma that he says he was, in fact, present with us, and that he hates abuse:

Yahweh is close to the broken-hearted. 2

You might like to be a bit more careful about which humans you allow to see this side of your conversations with God. I’m guessing the last thing you need is for someone to “correct your theology” right now. But the tragic truth is so many people have encountered real trauma in their lives. If you pay attention to your radar, there are people who will get it. I pray you will find a few.

Steve Wade

The path chosen by many of the psalmists and others in the Bible is raw honesty. Share on X

 

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 22:1
  2. Psalm 34:18

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