I was watching a documentary that looked closely at two objections people have about the Christian faith. The first objection was Jesus’ claim that He was the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12) and the second objection was about suffering. People asked, “If your God is so good and powerful, then why does He allow such horrific suffering?” The presenter then proceeded to discuss both these objections in detail, drawing on the testimonies of well known and loved Christian personalities. Intermingled with their testimonies, graphic scenes of human suffering were shown, which pulled on the heart strings and challenged one’s own belief in the existence and a loving and powerful God. This documentary was not meant to just challenge your thought processes but also your belief system. I was glued to the television.
One man interviewed, spoke about Christians doubting God during times of personal suffering. He then made a statement which impacted me deeply, as well as instilling a sense of hope. He said that the book of Psalms gave us permission to thump on God’s chest. How true that statement is! Think about it for a minute or two. Over and over, we read the psalmist pouring out his agony and his questions to God, which can be interpreted as ‘thumping on God’s chest.’
I pictured the psalmist with tears running down both cheeks, angry and confused, pounding clenched fists against the chest of God, and knowing that it was okay to do so. Remember that many of these Psalms were written by King David, who was known as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Instead of running away from God in his suffering, he ran towards Him and, after draining all the pain, I imagine David collapsed into the arms of God. This is the same God that he had referred to in many places as his rock and his stronghold and his shield and protection (Psalm 18:2, and Psalm 27:5).
Do you have questions? I know that I certainly do – many questions in fact. Is your heart in agony or your present suffering more than you feel you can bear? Then run into the arms of God. Thump on God’s chest and let it all out. Be real. Be explicit. Finally, be comforted and strengthened. In this world there is much suffering and God’s children are not always immune to it. If you have any doubt about this fact, then read about the life of Joseph, or Job, or Naomi or the Apostle Paul.
Then consider the life of Jesus. He was a man well acquainted with suffering and so He can identify with ours (Isaiah 53:3). He cried out on the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?(Matthew 27:46). To have the face of God turned away from Him was more than He could bear, and Jesus cried out in agony. It was prophesied by David, the shepherd king, that Jesus would speak these words (Psalm 22:1). I repeat, the book of Psalms gives us permission to thump on the chest of God.
Perhaps you would like to pray a prayer along these lines.
Prayer: Father God, I have questions and I have pain, and I want to pour them out to You today. Thank You that You will not reject me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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