Honesty in Our Suffering

How often do we wear a Mardi Gras mask and a plastic smile to cover up our inner hurts and disappointments until the charade we’re living seems real? And change is difficult when the tapes in our head keeps playing: “Be strong”; “Hold your hurts inside”; “Only the weak allow their emotions to show”; “Real men don’t cry”; “Pull yourself up by your boot-straps.” These only add to our emotional turmoil. Every year thousands of dollars are spent on counseling services to help redirect our thinking that it’s okay to lament our feelings to God, and most importantly, to ourselves. Even King David, the Lord’s beloved, prostrated himself before God and openly exposed his distress: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 NKJV).
And one of the sons of Korah, from the musical family of Israel, cried out: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:5.)
We find a profound example of anguish in the New Testament as Christ approached the time of His crucifixion: “And they came to a place which was called Gethsemane; . . . and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:33).
But verbalizing our injured spirits requires discernment in how and to whom we share it. No one enjoys a constant complainer. David was alone with the Lord. The exiled Korahs clung together. And Christ only selected Peter, James and John to confide in prior to facing the cross.
Then David, the Korah psalmist and Christ did not just murmur their disparaging offerings, they spelled out for us what to do afterwards. David, feeling God’s absence in the midst of his pain, confesses his faith in the God of his fathers. “Our fathers trusted You and You delivered them” (Psalm 22:4). The Korah psalmist experiencing separation still states in Psalm 42:5: “Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” And Christ, in Mark 14:35, exhibits what to do in our darkest hours. He went off by Himself “and fell on the ground, and prayed” (Mark 14:35). Their healthy groanings had resolutions of hope. These three laid bare their souls to help us learn to do what Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “To thy own self be true.”
We now know it’s safe to genuinely bare our hearts before God and become transparent with a few selected friends—revealing trust. We now know the next step to restoration comes when we focus on God—revealing the source of our strength.
We can now give ourselves permission to live acknowledging our emotions with honesty.
We now know how to take off the Mardi Gras mask and plastic smile—revealing openness.