Lent is an appropriate time for reflection and self examination and there is no better place to ground our thinking than with the Psalms. This is a book that is actually made up of several books and inside each we can find songs that reflect many ways of describing our relationship with our God. There about nine major types of Psalms and most contain more than one manner of expression. For Lent however, I wish to focus on the Penitential, the Laments and the Relational Psalms. Understand though, most of these songs end with some sort of praise statement.
To begin then, we are confronted with the notion that is alright to yell at God. We are in good company with the Psalmists and can learn that there are few limits on what we can complain about. In most cases the Psalm writers were holding up the covenants with God and pointing out that what they were experiencing did not fit those promises. These are the laments, the yelling at God.
The Psalm assigned for the first Sunday in Lent, yesterday, was Ps 25: 1-10. “It begins with a grand statement of praise. “To you, O Lord, I will lift up my soul; I in you I trust, O my God.” The entire citation is a declaration of faith”.
Today, Monday, we are plunged into despair. (Daily Lectionary, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 1134). The lectionary takes us to Psalm 77 in its entirety and begins with a lament. “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me”. Take some time to read this text. By verse seven the Psalmist is posing some rhetorical questions: 7, “Will the Lord reject us forever?” 8, “Has his unfailing love vanished forever?” 9, “Has God forgotten to be merciful?”
These are the questions of a Lenten reflection. How do you see God busy in these Covid days? Where do you see God busy in these times?
From verse 12 we read, “I will meditate on all of your works and consider all your might deeds”. This really is Lenten stuff!
Verse 16 starts to answer the questions posed earlier in the Psalm: 16, “The waters saw you, O God…” 17, “The clouds poured down water…” 18, “Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind…” 19, “Your path led through the sea…”
The Psalm ends as most laments do with a statement of faith. 20, “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron”.
So how can we bring all of this into an assessment of the world as we see it today? It is hard to see what God can turn into good from anything that is in plain sight right now: the separation of families and church communities required by the pandemic, the uncertainty of our political system and where any of that is going, the marginalizing of so many people who are not in any position of power, the growing number of people who are food insecure, the growing number of people who are housing insecure. The list goes on.
So we look back to the Psalm for yesterday, “In you O God, do I trust”
Our answers come to us by Lenten reflection, meditation and a look to the Psalmists who asked the very same questions; but at the end of the day, when looking back, we can see that God is alive and well and active in our lives.
Lord God, help us see your activities and let us discover how we may be your eyes, hands and feet in the times in which we live. Amen.