In baking, as in life, it’s important to let off some steam every so often.
When you’re baking a pie, the recipe will usually instruct you to make some slashes or holes in the top crust before putting the pie in the oven. This isn’t just to make a pretty design, although some people do get very creative and make decorative cut-outs of hearts or dots, or even create a latticework effect in the crust.
The real purpose of these openings is to let the steam escape. If there’s no outlet for the steam building up under the crust, the filling will burst through and spill out. Your pie will end up looking like an unsightly mess.
Sometimes we need to let off a bit of steam, too. We get frustrated or angry at the circumstances in our lives, and need to “vent” our feelings.
David certainly did his share of venting in the Psalms. He let loose with some very raw emotions, crying out to God to intervene in his situation.
Surprisingly, God seemed okay with David’s outbursts. In fact, David was the only person in Scripture whom God called “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).
I believe David’s example can give us a key to how to vent appropriately without letting our emotions explode all over, making a mess of our lives and leaving us bitter.
David certainly wasn’t shy about expressing his frustrations to God. At some points he complains about God’s seeming indifference, and demands to know how long God will continue to ignore him:
“O LORD, how log will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1-2 NLT)
At other times David boldly insists that God respond:
“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” (Psalm 4:1)
In Psalm 6 David even seems to put a guilt trip on God by showing what a physical wreck he’s become, and implying that he won’t be able to praise God if he dies.
“Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak,
Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.”
“I am worn out from sobbing.
All night I flood my bed with weeping,
drenching it with my tears.”
“For the dead do not remember you.
Who can praise you from the grave?” (Psalm 6:2-3, 6, 5. NLT)
But the key to venting properly lies in what comes next. Look how David finishes some of these psalms:
The lamenting Psalm 13 concludes with these confident words:
“But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because he is good to me.”
And the agonizing Psalm 6 winds up with this firm conviction:
“Go away, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD will answer my prayer.”
Significantly, David wrote these words while he was still in the midst of his difficulty, before he had seen a resolution to his problems. Yet he still expressed unwavering faith and trust that God would answer him in His own way and timing. Many of David’s most heart-wrenching psalms end in a similar way.
As Laura Story puts in in her book,“When God Doesn’t Fix It”: “Look at the psalms. David wrote many of them when he was broken; and, in them, he poured out some painful and intimate questions. Sometimes David got answers. Sometimes he got silence. But even when David’s questions weren’t answered, his faith in God was stronger than his need to know.”
It’s not wrong to pour out our feelings of frustration, confusion, impatience and even anger to God. As a loving Father, He understands that His children sometimes need to vent a bit.
But after we’ve done so, let’s emulate David and show God that, whatever happens in our lives, we trust in His goodness and accept His sovereignty.
Express your faith in God even in the midst of your troubles, and He’ll make sure your pie turns out all right!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.