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O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. 
I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. Jer. 20:7
Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? Jer. 20:18
     Gracious Father, this is some pretty raw praying by one of your beloved prophets. Jeremiah’s lament makes me thankful today for the freedom you give us to bring our unfiltered and unfettered feelings to you. If we don’t bring our painful emotions to you, we will take them somewhere. Somebody besides ourselves will feel the brunt of our anguish and anger.
     And to think, the same prophet who assured others of your gracious promise and good plan—a plan for prosperity, not harm (Jer. 29:11); the same prophet who gave us a vision of the glory and the grace of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34); this same prophet, like us, experienced seasons in which he felt deceived, betrayed, and abandoned, even grieving the day he was born. We’re all weak and broken. We all need the gospel.
     Father, only you have the big enough heart and broad enough shoulders to walk with us through our seasons of chaos and confusion. I praise you for the constancy of your welcome; the daily-ness of mercies and the steadfastness of your love. You weren’t “put off” by Jeremiah’s struggle, surely you will take on ours.
     This gives me courage as I seek to steward my own feelings; but today it gives me compassion as I pray for a few friends who are feeling exactly what Jeremiah felt.
     For my friend who’s feeling set up, chewed up, and spit out by you, please bring the gospel to bear upon her angry heart. She loves you, but she feels abandoned by you. She knows better, but she feels bitter and resentful. My instinct is to “fix her,” but the way of the gospel is to listen and love before launching. Give me patience and kindness as I seek to encourage her.
     For my friend whose spiritual melancholia is heading to an even darker place, Father, give me discernment and show me how to pray for him. What’s purely physical? What’s to some degree demonic? What’s just plane ole’ pity party? Give me wisdom to love him well.
     For the couple who’ve lost three children to miscarriages, and have waited patiently for their adoption to come through, only to find out yesterday the door has been closed, Father, their tears are hot and totally understandable. In a world of throwaway children and tens of millions of orphans, some stories just don’t seem to make sense. Father, bring my friends transcendent peace, and bring them a child I pray…
     Help me, Lord, and heal my friends. Meet them as you met Jeremiah. So very Amen I pray in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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