by Joel Bascom
The need for lament in our world is great, both for individuals and communities. We live in a broken world, and the realities of our broken world can be overwhelming. At times, it feels that there is nowhere to turn. Our culture sometimes seems to understand this better than the church. Entire genres of music, from blues to spirituals, are dedicated simply to crying out our pain, sometimes to an ex lover, but also to God Himself. In spite of these examples, our culture seems less comfortable with the brutal honesty of grief. The transition away from using the word “funeral” to words like “celebration” at the end of a life is but one example of this.
Two Sundays ago, I kicked off a 5 week series that will look at a few of the Psalms of lament in our Psalter. To be sure, there are entire books of the Bible that are more or less dedicated to lament (Job, Lamentations). What makes the Psalms special is their brevity as well as their honesty. In these Psalms, the various authors question God’s presence and his faithfulness. With only some rare exceptions, the authors of these Psalms are able to find their way back to worship through the intensity of their suffering. God is recognized as faithful and kind, in spite of the travail and pain that has been heaped upon the author. This is made possible because of God’s promises regarding our worth to him and our lives. Even in the midst of pain and affliction, the promises of God will never fail. God never promises a pain-free, death free life. In fact, the scriptures show anything but that! At the same time, God does promise to be with us in our suffering, and His promises to His people are a sure foundation.
We wrapped up our introduction by looking at Psalm 13, a wonderful, short Psalm that exemplifies the normal movement that the Psalmist makes from questioning to faith. In looking at this Psalm, we were able to get a snapshot of lament Psalms, and to see that God is more than “OK” with lament. He has sovereignly put this Psalm (and other much darker Psalms) in our Bible. If David, the man after God’s own heart, could bring his suffering and questions to God, why shouldn’t we?
I hope you will join us for any and all of the next three Sunday classes as we look at more Psalms of Lament. We will be meeting during the 10:45 service in the conference room right next to the sanctuary. On March 19, Jennifer Asp will lead a study of Psalm 22. March 26 will see David McEachron look at Psalm 130, and Peter Berg will wrap up the study on April 2 with a study of Psalms 42 and 43. We hope you will join us!