A year to pause, spend time lamenting, listening and trusting

I’d imagine that at some point during every generation, people would wonder  if things could get any worse. I’m reading the classic piece of Aussie literature, “A fortunate Life” by A.B Facey at the moment. ‘Berts’ life is so incredibly hard that I feel my own generation is just soft. Imagine working from dawn to dusk from the age of 8. No stable family, no place to belong. Serving in Gallipoli only to survive the Depression and to be profoundly impacted by the Second World War. Despite his life, Facey truly believed that his life was fortunate. 

Given the state of everything that is going on around our world and in our own country, how are we to  be thinking life? One way is to rest in pragmatism. Just do the next thing in front of us. For me that’s making sure Zoom church is organised,  people get visited and (hopefully) encouraged, phone calls are made, blogs and sermons get written, people and our Arawang ministry get prayed for, the bible gets studied, administration, planning gets done and there are always the next Zoom meetings to look forward to! Life is busy and by focusing on the next thing, I don’t really need to think about life. 

Pragmatism is a good thing but it’s not the main thing. When we are staring at storms and uncertainty we also need to stop from time to time and reflect on the things of God. How does God want us to think about life in 2020? Are we to see it as a waste of time? A year of survival and treading water? 

I think God would want us to lament. Around the world we see racial division, violence, economic hardship, sickness, fear of death and massive amounts of uncertainty. Biblical lament is when we cry out to God and ask why? We are not looking for solutions, we are just sitting with the fact of our broken world and asking why. When we lament we cry out to God out of need. It’s not a list of complaints but engagement with God in the context of pain and trouble. 

In the cultural West, we don’t do this very well because our culture wants to minimise pain and maximise pleasure. There’s no room for lament in that! Christian communities that are driven by pleasure, success, celebration and control do not want lament for our world because our lives are already in a good place – and if they’re not we simply ignore it and press on.  We need to be a people who challenge that. Our world is broken and we need to lament. As we lament more, church be a place of rest where Jesus would be people’s refuge. We don’t want to be pragmatists who withdraw from the world. We need to listen to the worries of our communities and lament with them.  Part of suffering is loneliness because of the busyness of brothers and sisters in Christ.

 I think God would want us to rest in the fact that he is our unchanging Heavenly Father. As we pray in the prayerbook, “Be present, O merciful God…, protect us so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord”. We read in Psalm 102,

“ Do not take me away, Oh my God, in 

the midst of my days,

your years go on through all 

generations. 

In the beginning you laid the 

foundations of the earth, 

and the heavens are the works of 

your hands. 

They will perish, but you remain; they will 

wear out like a garment.

Like clothing you will change them

and they will be discarded.

But you remain the same,

and your years will never end.”

When we face storms and uncertainty, let’s create space to be with people so we can lament and listen . Let’s make time to pause and think about God. Let’s rest in the unchanging God who said never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 

With love and the promise of my ongoing prayers,

Gus