Sunday, February 4, 2018

Faced with despair and grief

Farmer in despair during the Great Depression (1932) - photographer unknown, Wikimedia Commons
Joyce Sasse - How can we express our feeling of despair and grief? Some Biblical texts give wise advice.

The Psalmists repeatedly offer the invitation to join in private and public prayers of lament. Psalm 17 is one such prayer. “Listen, O Lord, to my plea for justice; pay attention to my cry for help.” The defence is there. “You know my heart. You have come to me at night. You have examined me completely and found no evil desire in me.” This situation is not of my doing…. “Hide me in the shadow of your wings from the attacks of the wicked.”

That image brings to mind a clucking-hen charging at people-sized-threats while calling her young to hide under her feathers. Imagine how safe those young, cocooned in downy softness, must feel.

When our whole being feels threatened, we may become aware of God calling us to a place of shelter. As feelings of smallness and inadequacy overwhelm us, the support given allows time for us to marshal our strength against the harshness of life.

Have you ever noticed how tiny children cling to their mother’s knee? As they gain confidence, they move a short distance away. The least upset sends them scurrying back for reassurance … But eventually they are able to move on their own.

We’ve all faced serious doubt and fear-filled times. Our places of solace may be with a companion, in a sacred place, or wrapped in a special memory – God-given places. There we re-focus ourselves and rebuild our level of understanding.

Jesus well understood the imagery. With a heavy heart he stood near the gate of a turbulent Jerusalem and said “How many times I have wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing.”

For Jesus, and for us, lament is a valuable survival tool which helps us move toward the promise of a New Day!

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