Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gratitude and Lament

I remembered tonight that part of Lent is lament, and therefore maybe my goal of happy gratitude as I prepared my heart for Easter might have been a little misplaced. Instead it might be wiser to think of gratitude in terms of repentant thanksgiving for who God is and what God has done and given for me. This reminder came today from an unexpected story.

In my Context Group (read: Bible Study, Life Group, Community Group, Small Group, whatever your church calls the smaller meeting of people during the week) we are going through Genesis. In three weeks we have busted through creation, eating the fruit, and fratricide. So today we were discussing that lovely nursery decorating, children's story of Noah's Ark. You know the story, where all of humanity aside from one family is drowned in a massive flood. In short one of the messier and darker stories of the Bible that we tend to dress up as something cute, because we don't want to deal with the harshness of it.

I realized tonight how much of the story I have missed. Not in that I don't know the details, or the historical context it was written in or any of that, but I realized I have read the character of God wrong. I always read the story as the story of an angry God, but if you read it closely most of the emotions attributed to God are the emotions of grief and sorrow. Yes, there is judgment, but there is a redemptive plan and sorrow: unspeakable painful sorrow, for the state of the world. GOD IS SAD, that he* created humanity because humanity is evil, and in this evil we are hurting ourselves.

Furthermore, even after the flood God is resigned to deal with our evil instead of choosing to destroy us once and for all. He goes so far as to enter into covenant with us, knowing that our hearts are evil.

In response to this, as best I can, I want join God in God's sorrow instead of taking it on as my own. I want to remember that God has been at work redeeming this world over and over again, and he has done it at the cost of his own heart and his own sorrow. I want to say that I am grateful for holy memories of the story of God.

*Being a bit on the feminist side and a HUGE fan of inclusive language for God, I want to apologize for calling God 'he' all the time. I just sometimes find the inclusive language more distracting than helpful. If you need to mentally edit to 'she' I will not be offended. ;)

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