Links of the Day – Bible: Lament and more

Sibboleth – The Loss of Lament quoting Brueggemann

Psalm 39 causes a change in heaven with a derivative resolution of social systems on earth. This Psalm characteristically brings to speech the cry of a troubled earth (v. 12). Where the cry is not voiced, heaven is not moved and history is not initiated. And then the end is hopeless. Where the cry is seriously voiced, heaven may answer and earth may have a new chance…

It makes one wonder about the price of our civility that this chance in our faith has largely been lost because the lament Psalms have dropped out of the functioning canon. … In the absence of lament, we may be engaged in uncritical history-stifling praise. (pp. 66, 67)

– Brueggemann, “The Costly Loss of Lament” (JSOT 36 [1986], 57-71]

Kirk links to “From Kleenex Theology to Messy Spirituality” – Chuck DeGroat

Lament is, at its core, a search for God. It is not a search for answers. It is not an invitation to fix an ailment. Rather, lament enters the agony with the recognition that it might not go away for days, months, even years. And yet, the lament carries with it the hope that God will eventually show up.

. . . we speak with the confidence that our complaints will be heard, contained, validated, listened to, and ultimately bring about a change in our circumstances. Like Jacob, our wrestling leads to surrender, deeper relationship, greater trust, and a heart made soft by its honesty before God. It is a sure indication that we are fully alive human beings, says Barry Webb, open to the full possibilities of God’s wild and risky involvement in our lives.

This wild trust, this openness to surrender, is precisely how God brings about radical transformation in the hearts of sinners. But it is a transformation that takes time, that is often un-remarkable, and that doesn’t change the facts and circumstances of life very quickly. Lament without a quick fix or a happy principle to mitigate it is ugly and un-productive to modern, results-driven, Western Christians. However, the gift to be patient and to engage suffering—not to fix or to make sense of it, but simply to experience it before the face of God honestly—is a gift that stirs the deepest hope, the hope of the saints, the hope of the very unbroken, tear-free world to come.

. . .

So, lament. Join the chorus of ancient voices in their universal cry. Speak honest words to a God who does not fear a complaint born in desire, but actually responds to it. And by all means, live. Pain, as C.S. Lewis says, is God’s megaphone to call us to be awake, and the awakened, passionate life is a lot better than the false realities that our neurotic and fearful world has to offer.

Ongoing Tribute to Al Groves

Part of Al’s Biblical Theological depth was born out of his love for literature in general. As he was fond of saying “there are no free motifs” in the Bible. It is a book rich in intertextuality that is meant to be explored and articulated by the careful reader.

Chris Tilling discusses restoration and exile.

John Hobbins makes my list yet again with another daily double:

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would steer clear of this particular topic for obvious reasons, but this quote was too good to pass up.

Scripture for the believer is the place to go to hear the word of God with reverence. Faithful exposition of it is the fountainhead of knowledge of God and ourselves and of God’s will for humankind. Scripture teaches solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God desires to communicate to us for the sake of salvation.

Plus his sixth thesis on war and peace in the Bible:

6) Defeat in war, not victory, was the key turning point in the history of ancient Israel. Victory over its enemies, peace, and prosperity prepared the way for the nation’s undoing. Defeat, destruction, and exile prepared the way for its renewal.


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