In today’s morning prayer from Give Us This Day, the scripture verse from Lamentations counseled: “It is good to hope in silence/ for the Lord’s deliverance.”
It struck me, while praying with it, how often we hope quite loudly. And our hope might even sound a little, well, whiny. It might even become a litany of complaints: WHY GOD WHY??
And there’s a lot to complain about these days. The news cycle continues to curate a daily buffet of outrage. Choose your side, and take your pick: I promise, you’ll be angry in no time.
I don’t say this to relativize or explain away the justified anger that many are feeling, or to say that silent compliance with injustice is a good thing. I’m only saying it to describe the collective atmosphere of the air we are all breathing together: the oxygen of outrage.
Honesty is crucial to any good relationship, and our relationship with God is no exception. When we turn to scripture, we find a covenant that is strong enough to endure both criticism and complaining. The book of Lamentations is one such book, a book of honest mourning about the injustices and tragedies suffered, a cry to God for consolation and deliverance, a book of grievances and complaints.
But in scripture the pain and grievance always leads into a deeper relationship with God. It never ends with cynicism (well, maybe in Ecclesiastes, but that’s another story).
I’ve noticed within my interior life that it is a pretty slippery slope from righteous anger to bitter, cynical hatred. And while the former can help us build a more just and humane world, the latter is poison, and leads only to despair. It robs us of hope, meaning, and purpose.
And I still believe in purpose. I still believe in hope, albeit it is a “hope in silence.”
In silence, the voice of anger unravels, the fears and hurts beneath the rage rise to the surface, and the Presence of God reveals the love at the heart of all creation, including the love of God within you and me (and the people you are mad at).
And then, in moments where the clouds of mundanity momentarily break, the startling realization of the primordial giftedness of life itself, of being, of consciousness, of the breath in my lungs and the light in my eyes: All is revealed as gift.
One day in quiet prayer the phrase came to me: “There is not a heart you hate that does not have Me within it.” It was a bit of a wake up call: be careful who you let yourself hate, you might discover God within.
The Book of Lamentations says it is “good to hope in silence.” It doesn’t say it is easy. Like many good things, it is difficult and takes some effort on our part. But the effort is well rewarded.
Speaking of effort, I’ve been busy writing my first full-length book. The first draft is now in my editor’s hands. And while there will be further refining and more drafts in the weeks and months ahead, I am hopeful that the bulk of effort and energy expended is behind me.
Every word and sentence I could muster was devoted to this work and to another couple essays, but I hope I’ll have more time to write here regularly in the future.
But alas, that will have to wait. For me, it is a time for rest, a time for peace, a time for silence, and the hope found therein.