This coming Sunday we will spend some time with the prophet Jeremiah, and we will clearly see why he has come to be known as the weeping prophet.
My hope is that our time with the weeping prophet will be neither a morose exercise nor a historical curiosity but rather a help for us as we address crucial questions. What do we do with our anger? What do we do with our pain? Is there space within our faith for disappointment and doubt? Or to ask another way, how do we lament?
Jeremiah models for us how lament, how bringing pain and disappointment before God as a matter of prayer is not antithetical to faith but central to it. In his book Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, theologian Soong-Chan Rah describes lament as “a liturgical response to the reality of suffering and engages God in the context of pain and trouble. The hope of lament is that God would respond to human suffering that is wholeheartedly communicated through lament.”
I find Rah’s description striking for a couple of reasons. First, his description of lament as liturgical means that lament is a way of worshipping or, if you aren’t willing to go that far, a way of praying. Think of it. Bringing our pain, our disappointments, our questions, our doubts before God is part of our right worship of him. Second, Rah’s insistence that lament is a matter of hope means that even in the midst of darkness, by crying out to God, the very one who feels absent, we are still praying, and praying is always a matter of hope.
Please join us this Sunday, and if you haven’t already, please consider joining a pastorate.