Last August I preached a sermon, Stop Faking It. One section of the sermon was “Don’t Fake The Funk” meaning that we need to be open and honest with God when we pray. Here’s part of that sermon;
Stop faking, it. It's okay. You can say anything to the Lord anytime you feel like it, and in any way you feel like it. Now that doesn't mean that you can be disrespectful. Don’t ever forget that He is God and He can, like like our parents use to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out, and make another one just like you”. What I mean is that you can be real with God, He won't come down on you for telling Him how you really feel. He is always open and real with you and he wants you to be real with Him. He's your friend and he loves you. When you have a true friend you can talk to them about anything, anytime, and pour out your soul to them. So let’s be real with God in our conversations with Him. Our prayers should be conversations where we talk to our friend and He talks to us and we are both open with each other.
We should let our real emotions show in our conversations with Him. After all He has emotions and He doesn’t deny them, or hide them from us.
He gets angry
Psalm 7:11 (NLT) God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.
He experiences grief
Genesis 6:6 (NLT) So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
Ephesians 4:30 (NLT) And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
He is jealous for our love
Exodus 34:14 (NLT) You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.
He shows His impatience
Judges 10:16 (NLT) Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved
The Risk of Being Real
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him. Let’s stop “faking the funk”.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Christians like to quote this scripture when things get a little tough but if we’re honest, when they don’t turn around right away it seems that God’s plans were not prospering you at all; in fact, it feels like they’re hurting you. What is He trying to do? Make you tough? Make you stronger? How were these plans bringing you hope? Where is all this peace and prosperity He promised?
When we become convinced that God is really our friend, we can talk to Him about what we’re feeling. We can ask Him those questions.
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
I got a devotional in my email this morning, from Devotionals Daily, written by Esther Fleece the author of No More Faking Fine. I the devotional which follows Esther says, and I agree, that much of the thanks that Christians give at this time of year is really fake. We “fake the funk” and don’t really take the time to remember the good times and the good things that our good God has done for us in the bad times as well as the good times. When we remember what He has done and then remind ourselves of those things stop “faking the funk” and “faking fine” Thanks real thanksgiving.
How to Make it Through the Holidays When You Don't Feel Very Grateful
by Esther Fleece, author of No More Faking Fine
It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins are put away, Christmas décor in beginning to fill the stores, and there’s one more big holiday to celebrate before the Christmas jingles hit the airwaves – Thanksgiving.
As Christians we know we are supposed to “give thanks is all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “give thanks to God for everything” (Ephesians 5:20) but I have a sneaky suspicion that many of us are not celebrating the holiday season like we want to be.
Just this week I heard from a friend who has been struggling with infertility for years. Another friend just let me know of her pending divorce. The news headlines continue about another mass shooting, this time to another grieving church.
Life is hard, draining at times, and pain does not take a break when the holidays get here. Sometimes pain is more exposed around the holidays. Sometimes the holidays can expose our longings and laments and it makes it difficult to know how to celebrate with a troubled heart.
How can we “give thanks” when we don’t feel very thankful?
1. Remember what God has done
As I studied laments throughout scripture, I saw a God who invites us to remember. We are to remember the things God has done for us in the past. We hold on to these in the present and into our future, especially when our circumstances make it difficult to remember the goodness of God. God knows the highs and lows that hit our life, and so He invites us to remember His faithfulness throughout the ages.
Remembering the goodness of God in the past, will help us in seasons where it’s harder to see Him. “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11).
2. Remind God of His promises
This one can feel a little odd, after all, God is all-knowing and doesn’t need us to remind Him of things, yet God invites us to remind Him. In the same way a child might say to a parent, “remember you said you’d take me to ice cream if we won the game?” God invites us into a reminding-prayer relationship with Him. This type of reminding is not for God’s sake, but usually for ours. It is good for us to remember God’s promises. It is good for us to stay in communication with God when life has not gone the way we expected it to.
The Hebrew words for “remember” – zakar – and “not forget – lo shakach – are both in active tense. They are “doing” verbs. Just as we take action by praying, we also take action by calling God’s truths into the present.
This practice of remembering and reminding God are found in both the old in New Testaments. Jesus even asks us to remember Him as we take communion (1 Corinthians 11:24). The church I have been attending practices communion every week and this has been so good for me! I am being reminded of God no matter what has gone on during my week, and I am being reminded to take my prayers and pain to God.
The practice of remembrance can often leads our hearts to thanksgiving for our past and hope for our future. While God will never forget or abandon us, at times we will feel forgotten. It’s not that God is distant; it’s just that sometimes He feels distant. It’s not that God is preoccupied; it’s just that our struggles make us feel like we’re facing the world alone.
Sometimes we need a little extra reminder around the holidays.
In my book No More Faking Fine, I share about Nehemiah and other “How Long” laments found in scripture. Nehemiah is a servant in scripture who practiced this type of remembrance prayer.
Nehemiah remembered God, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome” (Nehemiah 4:14) and Nehemiah reminded God “Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people” (Nehemiah 5:19).
Remembering and reminding are tools of our faith that we can apply to each and every season.
Know that when life is painful, it will not always stay that way. Let’s remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and have hope that we will again see it in the future.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes Your help feels so far-off. Please give me strength to cling to You. Give me a shield of faith (Ephesians 6). Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy (Psalm 130). Hear my cry for help (Psalm 5:2) and be merciful to me, for I am faint (Psalm 6:2).
Original devotion for Devotionals Daily by Esther Fleece, author of No More Faking Fine.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.