Friday, March 25, 2016

Lament Is An Act Of Faith - Good Friday Reading

Around mid afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” - Matthew 27:46

As Jesus spoke those words, all was lost. As far as he can see, God is not there for him. Jesus was overtaken with the sense that God seemed to remain mysteriously distant.

When Jesus cries out those words on the cross, he is quoting Psalm 22. In the tradition of other Jewish prophets, Jesus is lamenting the suffering he is experiencing - expressing his grief and sorrow. It’s in many ways similar to how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before, asking if there was any other way - beside the cross - to accomplish what needed to be done. His words are a question, not a declaration.

In both instances, the answer is the same - God the Father doesn’t rescue Jesus by using some miraculous power. Restoration of the intimate relationship between God and creation will not come from above or at a distance.

God must also suffer with creation.

So Jesus cries out in utter distress, suffering such unbearable pain that he is questioning God; demanding to know why it seems that God has abandoned him at such a desperate time.

And who hasn’t felt this way when going through their own “valley of the shadow of death?” – awful experiences like a losing a loved one, the rupturing of a family or relationship, a doctor’s phone call relaying a much-feared diagnosis.

Yet Jesus refused to be silent. This is because lament and questioning are acts of genuine trust in God; their use assumes that God is listening. If that wasn’t the assumption, what would be the point in lamenting or questioning since no one is there to hear it?

Lament is firmly grounded in hope; that rugged, more earthy and muscular cousin of optimism.

So even though he feels forsaken and abandoned, even though he is in the midst of unimaginable suffering - Jesus still believes that God is listening.

That’s eternal hope.