Pastor pleads to lament to God, not complain

Pastor Jon Demeter of Redemption Church, Peoria, emphasizes the reality between one's hope and time.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

Jon Demeter, lead pastor of Redemption Church in Peoria, caught the attention of students destined to graduate from Grand Canyon University at the end of April.

“You’re getting the constant question from your parents, your roommates, your friends,” Demeter said during Monday Chapel at Global Credit Union Arena. “‘OK, what’s next?’ “Next month you’re gone. You’re out of here. What do you got next? What are you going to be doing?”

Demeter warned it is embarrassing to fake reality, such as claiming you might have three or four possibilities lined up.

The reality? “God wants your honest heart,” Demeter said during his talk, filled with effective graphics and anecdotes.

Peyton Peterson and the Worship team perform during Chapel at Global Credit Union Arena.

Demeter referenced Paul Miller, author of “A Praying Life” and executive director of the seeJesus ministry, during his talk by using some of Miller’s charts to understand “how are you actually honest with God in some of your darkest moments, like we see David doing here in Psalm 13.”

Demeter displays one of Miller’s grids, which displays a high arc showing one’s hope, with time at the baseline and a much smaller arc illustrating reality in the middle.

“It could be your relationship, it could be a friendship, it could be tons of things where you have this goal, but there's a gap between your hope and reality,” Demeter says.

An impending graduate could get on Linkedin and social media and reach out to friends, followed by a declaration that you will find work – only to remain without a job.

“You're trying to pull up the reality to your hope,” Demeter said. “And when you do that, on your own effort, it's called determination.

Pastor Jon Demeter of Redemption Church, Peoria, discusses the difference between lamenting and complaining.

“Determination is not a bad thing,” added Demeter, who warned that trying to find work without engaging God in the process is not healthy.

“If you operate in that mode when there's a gap between your reality and your hope, you will either run out of gas or you will run over people, and both of those things are not good,” Demeter said.

Furthermore, when your hopes and realities do not match, a gap is created. “The Bible actually has language for that,” Demeter said. “And it's called the desert.”

In a desert season, God wants you to express your heart honestly, which the Bible calls laments.

And Demeter emphasized three points that separate lamenting from complaining.

First, lament is to God rather than others. In Psalm 13, David speaks to God directly about his honesty of how he is experiencing life.

Second, lament circles back to faith. Demeter stresses that David was “brutally honest” with God in the first four verses of Psalm 13, only to circle back to his faith in God in the last few verses.

Guitarist Gabe Quinlan and the Worship team help students kick off their week at Chapel.

“It takes humility to know you don’t know,” said Demeter, referencing the student who realizes he will not get the job he seeks after graduating.

“I do not know, but I trust that you (God) do know. I’m going to trust you by faith.”

Finally, lament obeys, even in the midst of hardship. Demeter recalled how the Israelites complained and rebelled. “They don’t obey in the wilderness.”

“And we see that when you start complaining to other people, you're not talking directly to God,” Demeter said. “You're not lamenting, you're complaining. You're only a step away from disobeying because you're talking about God and you're frustrated with him, and so then, ‘Why am I going to obey him?’

“But true lament always comes back to obedience, even in the midst of the hardship.”

Demeter refers to David’s lament to God in Psalm 24, where he is hiding in a cave when Saul arrives. David’s supporters tell him this is his moment to kill Saul.

Jon Demeter, lead pastor of Redemption Church in Peoria, was the guest speaker at Monday's Chapel.

David admits he would be alleviated by such an act but declines to put his hands on God’s anointed.

“Because he laments, he understands what it’s like to obey,” Demeter said.

In Russell Moore’s book “Adopted for Life,” the author describes his visit to an orphanage in the Soviet Union. In the book, according to Demeter, the silence from the nursery was eerie.

Moore writes that babies in the crib never cry because they learned no one cared enough to answer.

“Children who are confident in the love of their character don't cry,” Demeter said.

The final Chapel of the 2024 spring semester will Monday at GCU Arena. Graduating members of the Worship team will be honored.

GCU News Senior Writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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Bible Verse

From (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16)

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