Lament for Haiti

No. I’m not going to write a prayer here. How tedious for you would that be?!

But you could stop reading for a minute. Tell God what you think about “acts of God” that kill, maim, and destroy. Point out your feelings concerning human practices that increase earthquake-suffering. Demand redress. And wait for his justice to roll down like the clean water Haitian refugees need (Amos 5:24).

No. I didn’t forget we celebrated a different sort of earthquake on Monday when I was supposed to be blogging. And lamented a different sort of injustice.

The world is full of this cr_p.

Pardon my French, but since my daughter’s potty training has deposited the stuff next to my writing chair several days in a row, I can attest that “cr_p” is not an inappropriate appellation for suffering, injustice, and the hooey we excuse as “mistakes.”

It’s wrong. And it makes me mad.

No. I’m not mad about Violet’s accidents. Those just make me impatient. My failures of compassion in potty training will probably define the crap she brings to her therapist when she’s thirty.

Do you tell your therapist what you think of how God’s handling the world and your little corner of it? Do you tell God?

Perhaps you should.

Some would say so much bold speech at the throne amounts to contempt of court. Malachi 2:17 records one such exchange:

“God is weary of your words.”

“Weary? What’s his problem?”

“You pan off evil as good and then you pretend it was God’s idea.”

“Phht. Where is this God of justice?”

No. I’m not advocating sass. I’m talking about appealing breaches of covenant to the Righteous Judge. It’s just that the Judge might also be the defendant.

In The Psalms and the Life of Faith, Walter Brueggemann suggests that when we silence complaints about how God and his so-called children have acted or failed to act, we reinforce theological and political-economic monopolies. We maintain the status quo. “Grim obedience and eventually despair” characterize our relationship with God (107).

On the other hand, permitting psalms of lament, even requiring this kind of prayer, empowers the petitioner to question the Court. Lament legitimates the speaker, taking seriously her own judgment that (a) something is wrong, (b) it can be changed, (c) it will not be tolerated as is, and (d) it’s God’s obligation to change it.

Complaints can be lodged against my neighbor, the building inspector who took the bribe (Ps 109), but they can also be lodged against God, who permitted the earthquake (Ps 88). Either way, “when such a cry functions as a legal accusation . . . Yahweh hears and acts. . . . In neither case is the response simple religious succor, but it is juridical action that rescues and judges” (107).

“Lament makes an assertion about God: that this dangerous, available God matters in every dimension of life” (108).

So no. Don’t shirk your difficult conversation with God. And don’t let me stop you from acting your prayer of lament, either.

Donate to Haitian churches, who are helping their neighbors, through World Relief.

Or donate through a program that will match your money.

Or take your emergency medical skills directly to Haiti by joining the Park Street Church team through CURE.

Or . . .

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