Fifty four years ago teenager Lesley Gore made famous the song, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” For a lot of people journaling is just that. It’s our journal and we’re going to cry if we want to because for the most part no one will ever read it. Why not let it all hang out?
But is that the best use of your journals? A better question to ask would be is it a Biblical use of journaling? How should our journals compare against say…King David and the psalmists? One source claims 40% of the Psalms are laments, 30% praises, and 17% thanksgiving, and 13% other topics. The Psalms are full of complaints against the status quo. A calling out on justice to be done. It would seem lamenting or complaining would be a legitimate us of journal time. But is that all our journals are about: Me, myself, and I? Our are complaints just affronts to ourselves or injustice against God? Do our journals also show ourselves as people who are patient in tribulation, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep? Do we hate iniquity or are we just obsessed that we have been affronted.
Here our five self-imposed complaint rules.
- Complaining is OK. It’s even Biblical. But let’s realize that it is God who is in control.
- Does our complaint show a desire for repentance and improvement?
- Is it something God would be dismayed with also?
- Is what we are writing something that we are going to be able stomach reading 5 years from now?
- Are we asking and giving solutions in line with his Word to God. God commands, encourages, cajoles us to ask. But he want us to ask for things in line with his will shown in the Bible.
The Biblical life is not one of grinning and bearing it. It is not telling everyone everywhere all the time that everything is just fine. There is a time and a place for lament, apparently according to the Bible a lot of time and place for lament. In addition, the damage the enemy does to ourselves, our world, and most horribly to those who reject God is worthy of great dismay. But God does not leave us there to dwell in the valleys of life forever and without hope even in this world. (See Psalms 27) It also a world of new dawns and rejoicing. A world of rising out of the sadness to the glory of God. Lament but don’t stay there forever. Kind David didn’t and neither should we.