Advent Day 3
Thess. 2:1-12 · Luke 20:9-18
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
3 My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?
4 Turn, O Lord, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who can give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.
21 How the faithful city
has become a whore!
She that was full of justice,
righteousness lodged in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your wine is mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not defend the orphan,
and the widow’s cause does not come before them.
24 Therefore says the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah, I will pour out my wrath on my enemies,
and avenge myself on my foes!
25 I will turn my hand against you;
I will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
26 And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.
27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together,
and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
29 For you shall be ashamed of the oaks
in which you delighted;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
30 For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
31 The strong shall become like tinder,
and their work like a spark;
they and their work shall burn together,
with no one to quench them.
It only takes a skimming of the news to hear the cries for relief that surround us. Injustice toward the oppressed and marginalized is in our city and around the world. Deceit, corruption and political unease cause worry about future times. The reality is that the world around us is not as it should be and we feel it. Our hearts cry out, we are frustrated, we complain and we appeal for relief and justice from those in power. Though the big issues are obvious to see, we each also carry our own concerns and burdens that may go unseen (even to us).
When the inevitable comes and we see the reality of destruction around us, we want nothing more than to search for relief. Complaint seems unhelpful and blaming God might even seem out of the question. But, what if we were encouraged to enter into the pain of deconstruction? What if the process of sitting in the midst of complaint, pain and neediness served as an invitation? In Advent, we wait and hope, even when all the pieces seem to be falling apart. It is here in this place of the in-between that we are called to embrace the tension of honestly recognizing our complaint that God is absent, but expecting God’s inevitable rescue.
Maybe the idea of holding such a tension is already causing some anxiety in your stomach. Or, maybe you’ve dismissed the idea as being irrational and unhelpful. However, as we read in Psalm 6, David models for us a way to pray to God through lament (a prayer of complaint) as a way to acknowledge the expression of one’s heart in the midst of painful life events and sit in a posture of confident waiting for God’s provision.
David complains to God, blaming God for his current pain. This may seem too bold or over-stepping our bounds, but in doing so David invites God into his most intimate place. David shows us prayer is about honesty, not about being good. He shows us that the painful in-between is a waiting place that disorients us in order to reorient us through forming a more intimate way of relating to God.
But, David does not despair. He expects God to show up. Likewise, we remember and believe that our restoration is grounded in God’s covenantal love, something easy to forget as we wait.
So, in this time of Advent, we take time to hold our place of waiting by honestly recognizing our current state of pain with unfiltered complaint to God. In so doing, we can articulate our intimate areas in honest prayer while we wait for the promised coming of the One who rescues.
What prayers of lament or complaint do you wish to offer to God?
What are some ways that you need God to “show up” in your life?