Ask boldly

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Two weeks ago in this space, in light of the atrocities in the Middle East, I began a four-part series on lament, a type of prayer God gives us to process our grief. In his book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, Mark Vroegop defines lament as “a prayer in pain which leads to trust.” Laments consist of four movements: turn to God, voice your complaint, ask boldly, and choose to trust. Think of it like a decision tree: in movement one, as you experience suffering, you have a choice to either turn to God or away from Him. In movement two, you can either suck it up and pretend all is fine, or you can give full vent to all your emotions to God. In movement three, you can either accept what is happening as fate, or ask God to act, to bring justice, to show up, to move, to act according to His character. And in movement four, you can either get swallowed up by your despair, or you can choose to trust that God is good, that He is sovereign, that He loves you.

Today, we will look at the third movement, ask boldly. Having turned to God and expressed our sorrow, anger, frustration, disappointment, or whatever else is on our hearts, we can now tell God honestly what we need or desire. We can hold on to His promises and His presence, asking Him to be true to His Word and His character. Listen to a few examples from the Psalms:

Psalm 13:3-4 - Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Psalm 22:19-20 - But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.  Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Psalm 31:16-18 - Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave. Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

It is important to realize that asking boldly is not the same as “declaring” in some kind of “name it and claim it” theology. The Bible does not tell us that we can simply declare away sickness and suffering. But on the other hand, we are also not to resign ourselves to whatever comes our way. We are to boldly ask what we will of the one who has authority over everything and loves us. Rise up and intervene on our behalf! Come to our aid! Let justice be done! Restore us! Vindicate us!

One common refrain in the third movement is “Remember, O Lord.” This is a phrase that calls upon God to intervene based on His love and promises.

Psalm 25:6-7 - Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.

When we ask boldly, we stand upon the promises of God’s word. We protest the way things are and appeal to God to act in accordance with His loving-kindness, His justice, His mercy. Whatever suffering you may be experiencing, or whatever tragedies you may be witnessing in the world, do not be afraid to come boldly to the throne, asking God to be true to His Word and His character.

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