Balance: Praise and Lament

Since starting my blog, it was my goal to post something at least once a week. Some weeks I have exceeded my goal … and there have been a few times when I have not. L The last few weeks have been busy with lots of reading and writing, reading and writing, reading and writing. I lamented on facebook that I was longing for the third “R” – arithmetic. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading and writing – I certainly do! But I miss arithmetic – I am missing part of the “old school” Trinity! Ha! I guess I am a Trinitarian at heart. J Seriously, though, I need more balance. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

This week in my Liturgical Prayer class we have been studying lament. Lament is an expression of pain, sorrow or anguish directed at God. The Bible records many stories of lament: in Job, the Psalms, Revelation, in the Gospels. There is also a whole book devoted to it – Lamentations. Even Jesus himself lamented as he wept for Jerusalem and cried out from the cross (quoting Psalm 22), “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the Christian tradition, lament has gotten some bad press. Somehow we have gotten the impression that lament is for those who lack trust or are weak in faith. Worship services tend to focus on praise of God, and often do not give room for the full expression of human emotion. Our praise is hollow if we are not completely honest with God. Lamenting allows us to express our pain – getting it “off our chests,” so to speak – making room for us to praise. Without lament, we cannot authentically praise God.

Below are two laments I submitted for class this week. The first is a responsive reading based on Psalms 42 and 43. The second is a corporate lament written for a situation in which flooding destroyed farms in a local community. Until next time, peace …

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so our souls long for you, O God.

Our souls thirst for living God. When shall we behold God’s face?

Our tears have been our food day and night. People ask us, “Where is your God?”

Our souls are downcast, O God. Why have you forgotten us?

We’ve poured out our souls and remember the songs of thanksgiving.

By day we remember God’s steadfast love, and at night God’s songs are with us.

Send us your light and your truth. Let them lead us to your holy hill.

We will go to the altar of God and sing our songs of praise.

We will praise God with the harp and the lyre, and remember the source of our hope.

Our hope is in God. We shall again praise our help and our God.

 

Corporate Lament after flooding has destroyed farms in the local community

Please listen to our prayers, O God,

     and take pity in our distress.

Do not hide your face from us,

    but be gracious to your servants.

The waters have covered our land,

    And our fields have been destroyed.

The devastation is indescribable;

    the destruction is immeasurable.

The wheat floats in ruin;

    its chaff choked and smothered.

The corn stands staring grimly

    at its seeds submerged in pools.

How can we yield a harvest,

    a bounty for your peoples?

Our storehouses are nearly bare,

    simply adding to our plight.

Dry up our land, O God,

    restore and cultivate our soil.

Bring new life out of destruction

    And nourish our weary souls.

In you we find our refuge,

    Our trust cannot be shaken.

In you we find abundance.

    Our needs will be satisfied.

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