Lament

My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?

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Possibly the most quoted lament of all time (followed closely by “My kingdom for a horse”). On the cross, Jesus cries out familiar words to most present – words that drive me to lament every time I have to read the Aramaic out loud at our Tenebrae service.

ElohiElohilama sabachthani?

I bear my cross, but now I cannot find you. I walked years and miles to meet you in this place, but I cannot see you. I gave up everything for you, but in my darkest hour, you are hidden.

My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?

The Psalmist who originally penned these words continues, Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

I am comforted to know that I’m not the only one who feels I sometimes cry to deaf ears.

My God, My God, Why…

Why lead me into a calling that is so lonely? Why do I have to pray aloud each week for your kingdom to come when it seems so far away? Why can’t I open my e-mail or watch the news without hearing of another child shot, another school made into a war zone, another parent crying, “Why?” Why can’t I find you when I grieve what once was?

Why does my pain consume me so that I cannot hear your voice leading me into your arms?

The Psalms, while normally credited as beautiful poetry, giving thanks and praise to God, are filled with laments. Ye, there are Psalms of praise and peace and thanksgiving. But Psalm 22 is not the only mention of God forsaking people. Psalmists throughout time and generations lament, sending tears and shouts of anger into the air, in confidence (but not hope) that God will hear.

Somehow, these great poets still find a way to turn their sorrow into an eloquent turn of phrase, capturing the vitriolic emotion we all understand but cannot articulate. They put words to the voice that aches to cry out within the depths of our souls.

My God, My God, WHY?

Through their words, the Psalmists remind us that lament is a part of the rhythm of life. No living person experiences a life free from pain. To silence the voice within that wishes to scream, shout, and cry like Sally Fields at the end of Steel Magnolias, is to dismiss the dissonant chords that lead us to a melody of clarity and resolution.

My sorrow comes and I cannot truly wrestle with it until I have found God. And I do not find God until I cry, “Why are you so far from me?” My lament brings me closer to God. My wondering and shouting, my tears and questions, lead me to the God who was always beside me. The God who sits in the valley with me – as long as it takes – to find the melody rising out of my life’s dissonance.

Jesus cried to God from the garden hours before his execution. He cried to God from the cross minutes before death. His shout, though feeble, rang out across the earth. Still it rings today as we mourn the loss of children at the hands of their peer.

And still the story reminds us that God met Jesus where he was. God meets us where we are. And, when we are ready to take the first step together, there is resurrection.

This post is a part of a Lenten discipline I am participating in to write each day on a specific word. These posts reflect daily thought processes and conversations with God as I journey through this season of repentance and reflection. I hope they will be meaningful to those of you who find this space and journey with me.

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