Lament and Resist
Jane Gardner, presiding evangelist
…the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” …the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” -Exodus 17:3-7
How long, O Lord, will you forget an answer to my prayer? No tokens of your love I see, your face is turned away from me; I wrestle with despair… I find that all your ways are just, I learn to praise you and to trust in your unfailing love. -Barbara Woollett, “How Long, O Lord” Community of Christ Sings 201
On our journey, that’s all we heard. “I’m hungry.” “I’m tired of sitting.” “I need more to drink.” “Are we almost there?” Even though we thought we were well prepared with juice boxes and cereal, the complaints about the quality of the journey were seemingly non-stop, only abating when the kids fell asleep, exhausted from their struggle. And they weren’t the only ones who felt worn out. The parents and children alike were not happy. Altogether, not a comfortable experience.
The 40 days of Lent might have some similarities with our road trip and, possibly, with the experience of the children of Israel under Moses’ leadership. Are we complainers, exhausted by the struggle? Do we find ourselves in this Lenten desert, feeling as though God has decided not to show up? Has God left us to thirst and starve? Into this mess of emotion and feeling, we, too, might ask, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (17:7). We want there to be no pain, no struggle, and we want answers. The unknowing so easily turns us toward dissatisfaction.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? -Psalm 13:1-2
An authentic Lenten journey opens us up to discovery and transformation. If you are like me, you may find yourself resisting challenges and experiences that are outside of a well-constructed security cocoon. Vulnerability is counter-cultural, maybe even counter to the 21st-century human experience. It is especially tempting to stay with what we know.
Unfortunately, when we choose this path, we can miss the new thing that God is doing-both inside of us as well as in all of creation. Fortunately, our God has proven to be patient, compassionate, and faithful. God is listening even when all we can offer is our unknowing and resistance.
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. -Psalm 13:3-4
Many who walk deeply on the spiritual path would say that our true growth almost always comes in the midst of risk, unfamiliarity, struggle, and the unknown. To truly become whom God created us to be is to move out of our security and simply be in Holy Presence. Pay attention to where you feel resistance to sacred activity. It may be surprising to find God at work exactly at that point of resistance. Let go of complaints, manipulations, selfishness, and being comfortable, and simply turn toward God.
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. -Psalm 13:5-6
If we will make space during this wilderness time to question, wrestle, lament, and grieve, God will be there for the journey.
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
Lenten Spiritual Practices
Moving Toward the Peaceful One
As Jesus was nearing the final days of his life, he wept over the city and proclaimed, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:41-42).What are the things that make for peace in our lives, communities, and around the world? During the Lenten season, spend time in silent refection or journaling each day to notice: Am I moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One? Pay attention to your attitudes, actions, and relationships this day. When did you most embody the peaceful One in your daily living? When were your thoughts or actions contrary to the peace of Jesus Christ? How might Jesus, the peaceful One, who is always near to you, be inviting you to draw nearer to him through your daily living?
Fasting and Giving-$40 in 40 Days
A Lenten fast gives us an opportunity to make space in our lives so that God can live in and through us. It’s a time to evaluate what we hunger for most and what we consume. This year, we’ve been invited to tithe as a spiritual practice by setting aside $40 during the 40 days of Lent. If you are participating, pay attention today to the dollar you have given. What might you have done with that dollar otherwise? How does Lenten generosity invite you to reflect on what is “enough” in your life? Who might you invite to join you in this practice? How might your gift be magnified by the many others responding to the same call?
You can make your $40 offering anytime during the Lenten season online or through your offering envelope for Worldwide Mission Tithes.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.