Lament in the Time of Tribulation
How long, Oh Lord? Where are you God? The light of love is dim
Have you forsaken us, O God? What’s wrong with this country?
Heal us, Lord Have mercy on us! Hear our voices, please
The people of Israel praised God, but they also made laments to God. These laments were their way of telling God what was wrong in their world. Some of the Psalms are prayers of lament, and the book of Job is one long lament. Moses and Jeremiah also used this form of prayer as they guided the Israelites.
Laments may be individual and/or communal. They are specific, letting God know the exact problem(s) that God should address. They often tell God what’s wrong in a manner that some would label disrespectful. They even order God to get involved. Laments may also seek vengeance on the enemy. There is hurt, anger, depression and risk-taking in laments. But laments are also full of faith because these prayers recognize that God is still in charge. In the end the lamenter knows God has heard and will respond, so she or he once again praises God.
This is a difficult time in our country and the world. Many find themselves hurt and angry and filled with fear. Answers are not easily found. So I wrote the following lament. Please join me in this prayer:
Where are you God, in the midst of this chaos and unrest?
You claim to have created everyone in your own image.
If so, why are some so evil?
You have allowed bullying on the playground and in the political arenas.
You tolerate violence against those who are labeled “different” either due to race, religion, or their sexuality.
Greed has become the norm
Hate is rampant in the hearts and actions of many.
Fear is the dominant emotion
Where are you God?
Where are you God, in our divided community and country?
Health care for all is again up for grabs
Public education is threaten from within as well as in the political arenas
Immigration, the act of welcoming the stranger, is seen as threatening to jobs and welfare
Children, women and racial minorities have once again become the lowest priority
Violence in our communities has many exposed daily to guns, improper police behavior and verbal abuse
The earth is in extreme danger and our leaders don’t really care
Where are you God?
O God, we are tired of weeping.
We are marching, protesting and trying to plan and strategize change
God, we need you to do something now! Help us, please
Purge our society of evil.
Stop the weeping children hungry for safety and love
Be passionate for justice – for you are a just God
Help all your children who need your special care – for you are a loving God.
Teach us to love, not hate; to talk with our neighbor, not ignore; to work for peace, not war/violence
Give us the courage to stand for justice in our prayers, deeds and public actions.
Do something, O God, for we are confused, frustrated and our hope is fragile.
Yes, God you are a God of mercy and righteousness
You have done many mighty deeds in our land
You will protect all your children from the evil of this world
Thank you God for your presence in the past and the assurance of your guiding presence as we move forward. Have mercy on us. Amen
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and quarterly retreats and art exhibits.