‘My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?”
How many times in my life have I dared to ask the question, ‘Where are you, God?’ How often have I heard the cry, ‘Where is your God now?’
The obvious answer is that he is in the same place as he was in the good times. Our theology may define the specific ‘where’ that might be. But whether it is in heaven, encompassing everything around us, or in our hearts, God is not absent.
Today I arrived at school to find that one of our former students, who would have been in Year 12 this year was killed in a motorcycle accident on the weekend. I look at this tragic situation and can certainly understand the lament of the psalmist as those close to this lad are crying out, ‘God, where were you when Jason needed you?’
I believe God not only welcomes our desperate cries but invites our lamentation. He isn’t afraid of our doubts, or our giving voice to our fears. And he is with us as we are with him. Embracing us in our sorrow, weeping with us, grieving our loss, singing with us when we have the blues.
Martin B. Copenhaver writes, ‘Lament is not whining. Whiners always find a way to whine, regardless of circumstances. No, lament is a legitimate response to real hardship. Mahalia Jackson could have been referring to lament, rather than the blues, when she said, “Anybody singing the blues is in a deep pit yelling for help.”‘
He continues by reminding us that ‘in the Bible there are more prayers of lament than there are prayers of praise. This reminds [us] that God invites our expressions of sorrow and complaint as much as God invites our praise.’
God is not unconcerned or uninterested. He is not an uninvolved deity who watches us ‘from a distance.’ He is near. He is so close to us that Paul put it this way to the Athenians: ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’
The blues are a given. At some point we will all be singing our song of lament. There will be times in life when we will despair, be overcome with sadness, find ourselves in times of deep sorrow.
In that space, we rest in the love of a God who journeys with us–and joins us in our lament.
* * * * * * *
After I wrote the above piece and posted it, I went to view it on the blog site and found a randomly selected link that WordPress had supplied. The link was to the poem below which is truly a lament, but with a tinge of hope (at least in my perception of it):
Life’s Poisonous Nectar
Names changing, being shortened to nicknames
Rich lands become crusty and dry
Wavering nights evolve to gold
Present is a stirring within all who wakes
For a moment blue skies and tender trees are in view
Then the veil of darkness closes in again
The earth once more acts as an envelope,
Containing all the fretfulness of the world
A weeping mother, hungers for her child’s well-being
Denying her helplessness, pushing away change
It had snuck up gradually, weaving with skill
Like a full moon shining golden and enormous
Only until an orange sunrise shatters the blue vortex
A final breath, the coldness of a young soul lost
No compensation to be given or a hand to lend
Money steals the hope of the poor
People once healthy and opulent, now destitute
Loss after loss, what is one to gain?
Another fight against tremendous odds
Change has begun to repeat itself.
Inspired by Nectar in a Sieve, Written in 2008
(an anonymous writing from the blog Looking In from the Outside)