I recently found myself reading an article by Walter Brueggemann, The Costly Loss of Lament. The article is compelling. Brueggeman points out that our modern church, in turning away from laments, has experienced a loss of genuine covenant interaction(:62). This seems to hit home in the reality of the faith tradition I have grown up in. This loss, leads to a faith that is unable to deal with the real, messy, paradoxical reality of life. As Brueggemann writes, we become like “yes people” surrounding the one in charge, always speaking as we think we should so that we can stay close to power. By acting this way, we betray the reality of life and the reality of a God who is bigger than our manipulation, imagination and control. Bruggemann asserts that this risky undertaking of lament shows our understanding of lament to be an act of faith in a transforming God (:64).
Maybe this is why I find Psalms 88 and 89 such interesting reads. Psalms 88 and 89 are just so real. I actually find Psalms 88 encouraging. Read it, if we could never speak to God in this way then would we really be in relationship? There is a sense in both of these Psalms of the overwhelming hyper-presence of God. God is so close that God seems far, God, in God’s overwhelming holy presence, seems removed. These Psalms are a great reminder of the mystery of knowing an unknowable God. The doubt that creeps into the subtlety of the passages is the actual breeding ground for the faith that twists its way through the same passages. This practical orthodoxy does not defend belief in God, but believes, as a way of existing in this world. Maybe we need to write some laments and risk the faith that we think we have.