"I am like a little owl of the waste places. I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. I eat ashes like bread, because of your indignation and anger, O God; for you have thrown me aside." - Psalm 102:6-10
I know the angry God of this psalm will be unwelcome to many. You'll want to reassure the psalmist that God isn't really mad at him, that what he's suffering is not God's will. God hasn't done this to him; God is present in his suffering with him.
But before you rush to correct his theology, listen to him. Don't tell him who God really is or how God really operates. Just listen to him, feel his heartache, dwell on the poignant images in which he casts his pain.
That's what I'm doing now. And as I listen, I remember a time I suffered a depression so excruciating it had to be God afflicting me. I remember a time I sinned so grievously I waited for God to discard me like trash. I remember a time I was so lonely, so outside the circle, I knew it meant even God wanted nothing to do with me.
When I needed to make sense of my suffering, God was the one I could blame, the one I could load it all onto, the one I could saddle with my grief and bewilderment. God took it all, took it without flinching, until I got better, until I got converted, until the circle of love opened to let me in.
If anyone had tried to mess with the theology that worked for me in suffering, wrong as I know it is, I might still be adrift. God is so much bigger than our theologies, good and bad. God is so much greater than our hearts.
Patient One, you are not to blame, but thank you for lending yourself to our anguished attempts to make sense of things. Thank you for being greater than our hearts.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.