The Last Hope in the Midst of Darkness

(Read Psalm 44)

The last hope in the midst of darkness is a faithful God.

Where is God? Why is he silent when it seems his children need him so desperately? What does God’s silence mean?  During Lent, we are recapturing the language of lament at Wesley.  It has been quite a struggle for us all.

Psalm 44 is the first communal lament in the book of Psalms.  Some scholars say it is the liturgical prayer of lament led by King Hezekiah of Judah after Sennacherib, the King of the Assyrians, had defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel and began to lay siege to Jerusalem.  One of the fascinating and yet disturbing lines in Psalm 44 is in verse 17 when the writer declares, “All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten you, or been false to your covenant.  Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way, yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackels, and covered us with deep darkness.”  I know when I was growing up I was taught that if you had a strong faith and were obedient to God, you would be blessed and would experience less difficulty.  That was what I was taught…that is not what I have experienced.

In verse 22, the people cry out, “this is all happening because of you.”  Rather than be spared because they are people of faith, it seems to imply that they are facing the darkness because they are people of faith.

And then, in verse 23, the people cry out…just as many of us have cried out.  “Wake up, God!  Why do you sleep?  Do not cast us off forever!”

The prayer of lament is actually a prayer of bold faith because in the midst of great suffering, we turn to God to lay it all on the line. We speak freely out of our pain and struggle knowing that the last hope in the midst of darkness is a faithful God.

Sound like a paradox?  It is.  I have been taught my whole life that people of faith only sing songs of victory…even in the midst of darkness.  Yet the scripture points to the voice of lament as a legitimate form of expression and prayer to God in the midst of struggle.  The Bible is filled with this language of lament.  If you are like me, you have experienced elements of life that appear to be at odds to this theology of victory that we are told we must always proclaim.  We believe God is present in our human experience, but it does not always seem God acting on our behalf.  Our cries of agony seem to go unattended.  I have been in situations before where I wondered if God is asleep.

In this life God never fully discloses all the answers to our questions.  The Bible itself doesn’t provide all the answers we long for in the midst of suffering.  But what the Bible does give us is permission to cry out to God.

The last hope in the midst of darkness is a faithful God.

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