Ever feel blue? Just plain blah? Discouraged. Depressed. Down. Done. How could we not bump into a patch of the blues from time to time? We're human. And we live in a world of hurt. Brokenness abounds. Violence and vitriol pepper the news with a vengeance. Death and destruction dominate our days. How are we to break free from the blues?
Many years ago, when unexpected events took my life in a direction I didn't anticipate, I came across a book written by Methodist pastor James Moore. The cover bears these words "When trouble comes, when disappointment breaks your heart, when sorrow grips your spirit, YOU HAVE A CHOICE... You Can Get Bitter or Better!" Nice. I bought the book thinking it would help. Maybe it did then. But it now seems a little too simplistic. Like we can just flip a switch and sip some fizzy concoction of positive attitude and personal determination. Maybe I've become a bonified cynic. Perhaps just less Pollyanna-ish. More realistic. Recent years have been marked by terrorist attacks, escalating gun violence, gender jumble, a virulent virus, and blatant exhibitions of hate. It's not impossible to approach a day with a positive attitude or a week with a fortified backbone, but it's tough to sustain over time. Because sometimes the blues get a hold of us and aren't easily escaped. If the wilderness featured a flashing neon "Exit" sign, we'd spend less time in it. But there's no such thing. Busting out of the blues is often not something we can do alone. But where do we go? What do we do when we get there?
One ready response of faith is to pray. Yet in a much newer book titled Prophetic Lament; A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, author Soong-Chan Rah suggests we should examine even our prayers for integrity. He writes, "Our prayers are often triumphalistic. We will pray for bigger churches, larger budgets, slimmer waistlines, more purpose in our lives, but we do not pray in recognition of the deepest suffering in our own lives or in the lives of others. Our prayers border on idolatry where we expect vending-machine type of results. Lament is often the appropriate response for our current situation." No wonder we are moved by many of the Psalms such as the one which opens with this impassioned plea: "I cry out to you from the depths, Lord - my Lord, listen to my voice!" (130:1, CEB). Dare we be so bold, so honest, and oh so very human? Dare we not?