Unlike Game Of Thrones, it appears that winter is not coming, or at least has been significantly delayed. I sit here on a warm Autumn morning in summer attire marvelling that its autumn and its warm. It doesn’t even appear as anything is changing at all.
My barista commented yesterday that he hopes this delayed start to the cooler weather doesn’t mean it’s a delayed start to summer but simply a shorter winter. I hadn’t thought about it that way – that a delayed start at the beginning of this season could result in a delayed start to the next. It’s even more worrying for this summer lover who enjoys and can appreciate winter for what it is – moments of wine by the fire or coats and scarves- but relishes the warmth and begins to crave it when the dark nights and cool mornings get too much.
And yet whilst the weather hasn’t yet kicked on over into the cooler days, I can’t but notice that there is a definite shift in the air. The world looks slightly different. The air around me feels different. Things are changing. Albeit very, very slowly. And I find myself strangely disappointed (ever so slightly) when the weather map displays little suns and temps in the 30’s. It’s like I can sense the change in the air, but what I see tells me it’s business as usual.
Which is often the case when we are anticipating change. We know it’s coming. We’re expecting it. But the revelation of this change can sometimes happen so painfully slow that it has you wondering “Is anything changing at all?”
And if it’s changing this slowly, does that mean the next season of change will be delayed?
I find the weather at the moment the perfect example of how I’m feeling. As most of you know, I work for an ethical online fashion marketplace called Thread Harvest. What most of you wouldn’t know is that I don’t get paid. We’re still technically in the start-up phase (which can last up to 5 years) and we’ve been working part-time jobs and hustling hard to establish this platform that we believe is so relevant and necessary for today’s world.
Through the process of seeking funding we have knocked on many doors, had countless conversations, endless edits to our pitch deck and a consistent response of no / not yet / not quite aligned. Which has developed endurance, perseverance, passion, and commitment, but that is a blog post for another time.
This journey has felt like a prolonged summer. So many things to love about it, but we’re at the point where an eagerness to see something change. But the reality we find ourselves in looks strangely like a weather map telling us it’s going to be sunny and hot all week. Just like the previous 75 weeks of summer.
There are many directions this post could go in. I could draw out the journey of faith not in what is seen but what is unseen. Or perseverance through trial. Or do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Or the very obvious one – for everything there is a season. There is any number of Biblical teachings I could draw upon to provide encouragement, all of them good, solid and true teachings. And every single one of them I say yes and amen to and highlight so that you may be reminded of the truth found in God’s word.
Instead, today, as I sit at this café, the warm wind swirling around me and my mind full of wonder at the lack of change in season I simply want to say this: it’s ok to feel this way.
It’s ok to feel frustrated.
It’s ok to feel demotivated.
It’s ok to wonder if anything is changing at all.
Because the Biblical truth I listed above is always true, regardless of how we feel about it. Your emotions do not determine if God will show up in your situation because he has promised to show up. Your emotions do not determine if the season will change, because it always does. Your emotions do not determine if you’re going to get through this hot summer, because the truth is this too shall pass.
Your emotions have no ability to change truth.
This is not about denying our emotions, this is about embracing them, feeling them, lamenting them. God gave us our emotions for a reason.
The Psalms are full of personal and communal lament. The Psalms of communal lament are focussed on expressing deep sorrow on behalf of a nation experiencing suffering or trial and who are desperate to see God move. They follow a specific structure:
“A Communal Lament essentially consists of five possible parts:
• The Address – usually directly to God
• The Lament Proper – a description of the occurrences for which the people are requesting assistance or rescue
• National Confession of Trust – a statement showing the nation’s belief that God will hear their prayers
• The Petition Proper and Motivation – a usually very specific statement of what the people want God to do
• Vow of Praise – the portion of the lament where the people promise to offer thanksgiving once seeing God’s intervention
In addition to the aforementioned elements, a lament may also include a curse of the enemies which the people believe to be the cause of their suffering or a claiming of the people’s guilt or innocence in the situation. (ref)”
What I love and can relate to in communal Psalms of lament is the professing of the truth (God’s goodness) and the expressing of emotions. In these Psalms we see the despair, the lack of hope, the fear of uncertainty in one stanza and in the next the professing of truth which is unchanged by the expressing of emotion in the previous stanza.
Psalm 44 is a Psalm of communal lament. There is a lot I could touch on in this Psalm but I think verses 23-26 demonstrate my point:
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
There is such deep emotion being expressed – calling on God to wake up and do something (I can totally relate!) questioning Him, doubting Him, I’d almost go as far to say possibly offending Him with their doubt and whingeing.
All this emotion, this lamenting, rests on top of an underlying truth that the writer of the Psalm, and all of Israel, knew to be true at the very core:
“because of your unfailing love.”
What this Psalm tells me is that it’s ok to lament. It’s ok to feel what I feel and it’s definitely ok to tell God what I feel. Because my emotion doesn’t change truth. Because I can shout and whinge and shake my fists at God, commanding Him to rise up and help me, and even if God is offended by my arrogance (which I doubt He is) it doesn’t change the fact that His love for me is unlike the seasons, it is unfailing and consistent and true.
It’s probably the only thing that doesn’t change. And for that I’m grateful.