Thursday, February 12, 2009

Laments are OK - or dare I say - "When cursing at God is OK"

Beside my bed this week are four half-finished books - The Africa Cookbook, Read Aloud Handbook, and The Bible Jesus Read (Philip Yancey), and the one-year Bible. I'm in a rut of starting books and not finishing them lately. These all happen to be decent, depending on my mood, so I don't know what to do!

So, about "laments". I feel like in the past year or so, I've had more questions and frustrations and confusions over Christian faith than peace, worship, and joy. A lot of Christians don't talk about that question stuff a whole lot though. Leading me to wonder - is something wrong with me, or Christianity?

Turns out, maybe neither. I finally found some justification for my discomforts in Yancey's book, as he discusses how 70% of the Psalms, the Bible's prayer book, are "laments" - a.k.a. the cursing psalms! OK, so I'm not the only frustrated person around! The old testament of the Bible, more than the new stuff we read more of today, is actually full of lots of confusion, disappointment, paradoxes.

So what is a "lament"? "We whine about what we have little control over, we lament what we believe ought to be changed. ...The psalmists clung to a belief in God's ultimate goodness, no matter how things appeared at the present, and cried out for justice."

To find God or even his scriptures less than comfortable or clear doesn't mean that I have to discount God or his goodness. But it also doesn't mean I have to sit quietly in confusion.

"To whom do you vocalize the most intense, irrational (inarticulate) anger? Would you do so with someone who could fire you or cast you out of a cherished position or relationship? Not likely, you don't trust them - ...that they would endure the depths of your disappointment, confusion... The person who hears your lament and far more bears your lament against them, paradoxically, is someone you deeply, wildly trust. The language of lament is oddly the shadow side of faith."

I hope that you have laments to offer to God like I do. And for me, I will continue to offer my "angry" prayers up, with confidence that doing so is often the best expression of trust and faith that I can offer to a God who is beyond figuring out.


Dina said...

yes! lv it! (typing w/ baby on shldr)

seems like you mite get the jist of my email tho what you wrote here makes more sense than me. ;o}

Elizabeth said...

Jo: am thinking i might have one or two laments of my own tomorrow. it still ok to call you Jo?


p.s. thanks for the comment & encouraging email.

Don said...

"Leading me to wonder - is something wrong with me, or Christianity?

Turns out, maybe neither."

(One of my favorite sayings is, If you don't like the answers, maybe you're asking the wrong questions.)

Just like your earlier Shaw quote, your question is a lose/lose, but you navigated on to a win/win outlook.

God is good, but... really?

Habbakuk is, like the Psalms, a book of complaint... then waiting for a response.

Faith supports moral tension, contradictions, disequilibrium, and apparent injustice.

Once again: good post.

joanna said...

Jo is definitely OK still - a reminder of younger and crazier days gone by!