Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday's Faith - The Lament: A Cry of Protest Schooled by our Faith in God

Friday's Faith

The Lament:

A Cry of Protest Schooled by our Faith in God

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
Give light to my eyes,
or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

~Psalm 13:1-4

"Our willingness to expose our pain is the means God gives us to help identify and respond to evil and injustice. For creation is not as it ought to be. The lament is a cry of protest schooled by our faith in a God who would have us serve the world by exposing its false comforts and deceptions. From such a perspective one of the profoundest forms of faithlessness is the unwillingness to acknowledge our inexplicable suffering and pain. ...

{Then, Hauerwas quotes the following from Brueggemann:}

"[Lament] leads us to the dangerous acknowledgement of how life really is. [It leads us] to think unthinkable thoughts and utter unutterable words. Perhaps worst, [the psalms of lament] lead us away from the comfortable religious claims of ‘modernity’ in which everything is managed and controlled. [We believe] that enough power and knowledge can tame the terror and eliminate the darkness. But our honest experience, both personal and public, attests to the resilience of the darkness."

~Walter Brueggemann

"We have a problem. Too often, we jump forward to the solution in an effort to avoid the full seriousness of our predicament. Too many attempts to discuss suffering end up making light of it, by making it merely a means to a beneficial end: it will teach us perseverance; it will build our community; it will chastise our faults; it will enable us to minister to others who suffer; it will bring glory to God. Any or all of these may be true - or true at least some of the time - yet any attempt to make positive outcomes into the purpose and meaning of all suffering is cruel. And it makes God cruel. There is no need to justify suffering through recourse to a 'greater good' that is served by it. God may bring from it greater - or lesser - goods, but these are not its meaning.

"So let us first simply acknowledge that it hurts and is wrong, and let us lament and protest. The God we worship 'is not a God who needs protection from our cries and suffering.'

"I cannot promise readers consolation (re: say, the sufferings of innocent children), but only as honest an account as I can give of why we cannot afford to give ourselves explanations for evil when what is required is a community capable of absorbing our grief."

~Stanley Hauerwas, Naming the Silences: God, Medicine,
and the Problem of Suffering (Eerdmans: 1990), pp 82-84, xi


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