Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Let Jesus Have It

A few weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends shared the included meme about bitterness, hurt, and holding grudges, with the concluding advice that when it comes to these ideas, we need to simply ‘Let Jesus have it.” The argument is that we aren’t meant to carry these burdens, so we should let them go and give them over to God. When it comes to our bitterness, hurt, and grudges, we should let Jesus have it.

It’s a nice sentiment and I appreciated the reminder to place my ultimate concerns in Jesus’ hands and let him deal with my troubles.

But, like I so often do, in the hours and days to come, I found myself overanalyzing the expression “Let Jesus have it.” This phrase is interesting because it can be used in a number of ways—with one being sweet and kind, and the other angrier and more upset. 

Like we’ve already addressed, one way of ‘letting Jesus have it’ is a lovely act of trust and surrender. We acknowledge that the heavy weights we too often bear were never meant to be borne alone, so we offload them onto to the strong shoulders of our Messiah, Jesus. 

But the phrase could also be read differently. In our common lexicon, to ‘let someone have it’ is to unload the full range of our emotions in a verbal or physical tirade. We tell that person what we actually think; we give that person what they have coming to them; we spew out our anger and frustration; we don’t hold back. And while this ‘letting them have it’ outburst might feel a bit relieving and personally cathartic, when this action is directed at another person, it almost always comes out in sinful and relationally harmful ways.

But what if the object of our ‘let them have it’ emotional explosion was God—the way King David expresses his anger and frustration in the book of Psalms? Would this still be considered sinful and relationally harmful? Or does scripture make it clear that God has broad enough shoulders to bear the brute force of our indignation? I would say that the Bible gives us adequate justification for venting our frustrations with God. And in fact, even encourages this sort lament.

So, to return to our original phrase, “Let Jesus have it,” what if both ways of thinking about this expression were faithful responses to our bitterness, hurt, and grudges? Obviously, ‘letting Jesus have it’ through surrendering our worries and struggles to him would be a faithful way of dealing with our emotions. But I would also argue that ‘letting Jesus have it’ through angry, frustrated, vocalized lament is also a health and faithful way of dealing with our problems. We certainly don’t want to stay angry and frustrated forever, but naming our irritations—our bitterness, pain, and relational problems—and voicing our true emotions to God is not an act of weakness or sin; it’s healthy and sometimes necessary.

So, whatever struggles you are dealing with right now, the invitation is to find a way to ‘let Jesus have it.’ Maybe you can do that in a calm, collected, and peaceful manner; or maybe you need to scream out your frustrations to the Lord. I think either way of dealing with our difficulties can be helpful and healthy, but the main point is that our struggles—our pain, suffering, heartache, loneliness, and interpersonal challenges—must be dealt with, one way or another. 

So let Jesus have it.

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