My world of understanding of who God is and how He works has been turned upside down and inside out. I still attempt to cling to my certain hope that is my faith in God (that He is present with me and loves me). Some days my faith is so small it is hard to find. The questions out number the answers. Anger, depression and anxiety consume me. I do not understand! I am confused! I do not know how to navigate nor do I want to navigate a life that involves much more excruciating pain than I ever expected to face.
In the book of the Bible, Lamentations, after five chapters of declaring the suffering that has taken place, the author, Jeremiah, does not conclude with a message that everything will be okay. In fact, the last verses in the book, Lamentations 5:21-22 say, "Bring us back to you, Lord, and we will return. Make our days as they were before, or have you completely rejected us? Are you so angry with us?"
*Silence.* Is this really the end of the book? Does anyone else read this conclusion and wonder where the voice of comfort from God that will bring peace is? How intriguing that this book of lament ends with questions for God that are left unanswered. In fact, where is God's voice at all?
Going back to what I discussed in Part 2 of this series, the book of Lamentations has three voices, the narrator, the city of Jerusalem personified as a woman and the man who is a witness to the suffering. Where is God's voice in all of this? What does it mean to me, the reader, that God is silent during and at the end of this book of lament? Moreover, what does it me to me, a person who suffers, that God is silent?
My walk with God often is challenged as I cry out, beg for mercy, ask for relief and in turn hear nothing in response. No rescue. No peace. This walk with suffering can be and often is a lonely road where I simply do not see God's presence. Just as in the book of Lamentations, God is silent. This silence challenges my certain hope (that God loves me and is present).
The words to the song, "The Silence of God" by Andrew Peterson, has touched a deep place in my soul. (Click on this link to hear the song on YouTube.) It is poetry that has come along side me, validated and expressed the spirit of how I have felt. It is a song of lament but also yet a song of certain hope. In these lyrics, though there is dissonance between the emotions of loneliness, doubt, anger, fear, anxiety, confusion and certain hope, there is also resolution. The resolution, where hope sits side by side with suffering, is found in the following lyrics of Andrew Peterson's song:
And the man of all sorrows, He never forgot what sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought. So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God, the aching may remain but the breaking does not. The aching remains, the breaking does not in the holy lonesome echo of the silence of God.