Have you ever witnessed a young child desperately trying to get his or her parents’ attention to no avail? As their attempts to be heard go on, children will often pass through stages ranging from quiet discouragement to loud, garish, yelling and fit-throwing. It is understandable, of course, as there are few feelings more painful than those that come from being ignored. When ignored, some people might say that they feel “worthless,” others “lonely,” or others “disrespected.” Regardless of the exact feeling, however, being ignored by others is a universally painful experience. Being ignored by others suggests that they do not see you as valuable and that they have more important things to do than to hear and address your needs. One of today’s readings poetically captures the raw emotions of alienation and pain caused by feelings of being ignored. The psalmist cries out, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!“ It is as if to say, “God, stop the silence; hear what I am saying! Listen to me!”
Where do you find the strength to live while feeling god-forsaken? Or put another way, where does one find the hope to pray with such anguish to a God who does not seem to be listening? The psalmist ends the prayer with these words, “O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” Ultimately, Christian lament finds its foundation in the overarching self-determination of God to be for us rather than against us. In other words, we are free to express our outright anger and frustration with God because we have been promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Do you feel heard? If not, take a moment to write an honest letter to God. Don’t mince words; share how you feel and say it with conviction. Or perhaps consider writing a short “auto-biography of grace” where you look carefully at the events of your life with an eye for where God has been faithful to you and demonstrated unending love for you. This recognition of God’s present work will provide a bedrock of support for you when you enter into a season of God-forsakenness.
Michael Geweke, Seminary Deacon