Fellowship Doesn’t Happen With Bad Coffee

I am convinced that the place where the least amount of fellowship happens is in church basements or building additions which were creatively called “The Fellowship Hall.” This stems from a much larger issue in Cultural Christianity where we have created Sunday as a day separate from the rest of our lives. Many show up to their local church on Sunday with their minivan washed, the kids hair combed and everyone wearing their “Sunday best.”
Then, in these Fellowship Halls we give people little white styrofoam cups of bad coffee where people proceed to share how “great” their lives are… all the while being broken and miserable inside. The conversation they want to have, but know they can’t, is that their spouse is thinking of leaving, the kids won’t talk to them, they may lose their job this week, and suicide has been a lingering thought for the last two months.
So, the question I must ask, is how do people who are hurting and broken approach their relationship with God and other people around them?
The largest book of the Bible is the Book of Psalms. This book served as the song book for Israel. The collection of songs is a combination of Psalms of Praise and Psalms of Lament. The Psalms of Praise are written from a starting point of joy where the writer is praising God for what God has done in the life of the author.
The Psalms of Lament, however, are a little more complex. These songs were written not from a place of joy, but rather from a place of sorrow. These songs were written out of the pain of the author. Real hardships and brokenness where the author was able to bring a weary complaint before the Creator God. Almost half of all of the Psalms are these songs of sorrow.
It is important to understand that the Psalms are made up of songs that come from both places of joy and sorrow. This is helpful so that we can find a pathway back to the presence of God from either starting point. If you are joyful and having the best year of your life, then there is a Psalm that starts from there. AND, if you are lower than you have ever been and you feel like darkness is your only friend (go read Psalm 88), then there are Psalms that start from that place as well.
If half of the song book of Israel is written with sorrow and sadness in mind, why do we lack these types of songs in our own church services? More broadly, why have we created these environments where people have to put on their “Sunday Best” and show up with a smile, while they are really hurting inside? I think part of the reason is that it is easier to fake happiness than to admit real pain and sorrow.
Let’s be real for a moment. It is easier to sing happy songs when things are going well: The kids are happy and healthy, the stock market is going up, and that promotion is right around the corner. But how easy is it to sing these songs of praise when the world feels like it is crashing down around you: Your kid just got diagnosed with something you can’t even pronounce, your spouse is struggling and you don’t know how to help them, and your big dream just fell through. 
It is easier to sing “Good Good Father” in the good times. Yet, for the woman who’s earthly father was abusive and the idea of “father” is terrifying -- when she can get to the place of singing to God that He is a “Good Good Father” from the place of utter sorrow -- it is so much better!
Whatever is going on in your life this week, I want to invite you to go grab a Bible and open up to the Psalms and see how God can lead you back to Himself from joy or sorrow. I also want to invite you into a real relationship and conversation with people around you who will care about you. Grab a friend and a cup of good coffee (no white styrofoam cups allowed). Open up your heart to how you are really doing. It can be scary… and it can lead you to freedom.
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