When there are no answers… living in mystery in the time of coronavirus

N T Wright brings such thoughtfulness to his writing and this piece is a must read in our time. We think that surely our faith brings answers to big questions like these. Wright’s contention is this: Christianity isn’t supposed to do that.

And this Lent has no fixed Easter to look forward to. We can’t tick off the days. This is a stillness, not of rest, but of poised, anxious sorrow.

That really does tick me off. I’m not going to lie. Last year was my first full year in the Anglican Church walking through Lent and by the time we got to Easter, it was so full of joy I just couldn’t stand it! I had never experienced that before. Now… Easter is on hold.

There are the platitudes: “Well, think of the day when the body WILL be back together.”

YES! But right now… I’m really ticked off. I am in lament.

And here is the truth: we can sometimes all get to the “ultimate truth” and realize something we can hold on to… but we as Americans are terrible at lament.

It’s like that scene from A Few Good Men:

“You want answers?”

“I want the TRUTH!”

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

Dear Lord… I love that scene. But I digress.

We want to know the why and forget there is the lament. I hold back from my true feelings about missing Easter… and I poke fun about “doing Zoom meetings” when I truth I really despise them… because I am lamenting and folks don’t know what to do with it. So… I suck it up, piously nod my head and say, “Yes. It will be so good to see you in yet another Zoom meeting. It’ll be just like being there.”

Wright offers this:

The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments. Some Christians like to think of God as above all that, knowing everything, in charge of everything, calm and unaffected by the troubles in his world. That’s not the picture we get in the Bible.

God also laments.

This is something we’re not prepared for. God is supposed to have the answers.

Holy Week will come very soon. While I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about how to do this season “apart” what is still lacking is a wide call to lament… and repent.

But that is what is deep in my soul. I need to lament this awful silence. I need to hear the voice of the Spirit and call out in repentance as well. The American Church is in such deep trouble… and we can’t even see it. Not even now.

No one else will call for it. I certainly can’t. But what I can do is embrace this coming week in a way that my soul needs.

I need to embrace that God also laments.

man in gray suit sitting on rock
Credit: Europeana on Unsplash

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