Coffee is one of the greatest joys that I have picked up in my adult life.
As I think about the process of making a good cup of coffee one of the things that has struck me is how the process of making coffee has mirrored so closely my life this past year. Living life in a global pandemic has brought fear, anxiety, and I hate to say it, a ton of sin. Though it has brought a ton of heartache and suffering, what's also been produced is a steadfast, slow, and even contemplative spirit within me. One of the things that God has used this global pandemic to produce in me is the art of lament. As a church we are going through the book of Lamentations. We are studying how the people of God cry out to God in the midst of suffering. What is more, is that I’m discovering that this thing called lament actually produces hope in the heart of the lamenter.
Now you may be asking “what does this have to do with coffee?” Before we get there let’s talk about this thing called lament. Lament is simply the cry of the human heart and soul toward God in response to suffering. That suffering could be self-induced, that suffering could be because we live in a broken world, that suffering could be evil, that suffering could be anything that is hurtful and harmful and causes our soul anguish.
Lament is not your typical prayer in that it’s composed and calculated. It’s typically a prayer that’s done with your whole being. It’s a prayer that is not voluntarily given, but forced out by life‘s circumstances and heartache. When one laments one can’t help but lament. And here is where a coffee analogy comes in.
Since lament is a prayer that is unfiltered it requires an outside source, our sovereign and good God, to filter out the parts of our lament that can’t see the true character of God because of our circumstances. Just like a pour over where the filter gathers the unwanted sediment from the ground coffee, so too does God by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the person of Jesus Christ, mediate and filter our prayers of lament. As I have made pour overs during this pandemic and experienced the hardships of life I am comforted by the fact that God doesn’t ask me to filter my prayers before I brew them. No, God knows that I am feeble and weak, and that I need his Holy Spirit to correct my heart when I am not thinking rightly about who he is. I’m comforted that he even allows me to do so. I imagine Him sitting and holding me as I cry and I talk and I pray uncensored and unapologetic about the way my life is going and my disappointments. Even if what I am saying is wrong.
This is true Christian freedom.
To approach God with all you have, all your questions, all your concerns, and all your doubts, and he still loves you and filters through your prayers. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that life is not hard. I have seen death from a distance, been assaulted by anxiety and panic attacks, and walked with my grandmother as she has battled cancer.
What I am saying though is this, how you feel about your circumstances are not always true.
Our circumstances tell us that God is not near. I have found that in this season that has been further from the truth. Our circumstances tell us that people just don’t understand. In this pandemic I have seen understanding like I have never experienced before from brothers and sisters who love me deeply. Our circumstances tell us that this happened because we did something wrong. This is not always the case. God in his goodness is using everything in this world for our good. Genesis 50:20 says what you meant for evil God meant for good. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for your good if you are in Jesus. Yes even the hard things.
Just like in a pour over you do not filter the coffee before you brew it. You dump all that is in the coffee into the filter, and by the hot water and gravity, the filter soaks up the unwanted sediment so that all that you are left to taste are the sweet tasting notes of your brew. Jesus is the filter. Your suffering is the hot water. The coffee is your unfiltered cry out to God.
What I have experienced is that as I bring all of my unfilteredness to the feet of our Lord, he has comforted me in the midst of my suffering. What is more, is that as I continue to drink the cup of life, God is continuing to make it more and more sweet. Not because life is easier, but because my perspective is less clouded by wrong thinking. And maybe thinking is the wrong word. My perspective is clearer because I can see Jesus clearer. I see that he is near to the broken hearted. I see that my weakness is actually where Christ’s power is demonstrated. I see that God does use my friends to comfort me.
What’s my point?
My point is that you don’t have to try and filter yourself when bringing your grievances to God. When I put my coffee in my V60 it simply rests in the filter and allows the filter to hold all its weight. Bring God all of you. Rest in the arms of Jesus and trust that he can filter your pleas. And while my pour over filter needs to be replaced every time I make coffee, Jesus does not. On the cross, Jesus proved that he can handle all of you. Good and bad. Filtered and unfiltered. And 3 days later he finished his brew by raising from the grave. And now those who put all of their weight in Him, taste the flavor notes that he has to offer, namely grace, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and hope.
And one one day, we will trace those aromas and flavor notes to eternity. Where we will drink and be satisfied, but never filled.