The child who cries out in the dark feels very differently when mother comes in and switches on a light. What felt so real and inevitable vanishes. Let us be careful we don’t embrace the pain in such a way that we forbid God to turn on the light and draw near. Watch how David handles the stormy waters of his own soul:
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42:3–5)
He admits it, he pours it all out with raw honesty, but he does not allow himself to stay there. Don’t you love it that David talks to himself (“Why are you downcast, O my soul?”)? That makes me feel a little more sane, because I talk to myself all the time. He reminds his own soul that things have not always been like this—and isn’t that where we begin to make the fatal shift? When we are in the darkness, we begin to feel like we have always been there. But it is not true. David reminds himself that God has been faithful in the past; God will be faithful again. He urges himself to put his hope in God, because the morning will come.
The Cry of the Heart is a beautiful and precious form of prayer. But there is a danger to it (just as romance and friendship have their dangers). The honest release of emotion can at times become a whirlpool that sucks you in. I’m trying to keep you from making agreements while you give yourself permission to have a full, emotional life with God. “I feel forsaken!” is very, very different from, “I am forsaken!” “I feel overcome” is much different than “I am overcome.”
Notice how David escapes the shipwreck of the soul: he turns his attention from the debris of his life in a much healthier direction; he turns his gaze toward God.