From Hurt to Joy, from Death to Life
THE FAITH OF ISRAEL, like all human experience, moved back and forth between the polar moods of, on the one hand, deep anguish and misery and, on the other hand, profound joy and celebration. In this back and forth movement the people of Israel worked out the power and limits of their faith. In the process they also worked out a pattern of rhetoric that shaped their anguish and brought it to expression so that it could be dealt with.
It is the lament that preserves for us Israel's most powerful and eloquent statements of the effort both to survive and to be transformed as a people of faith. The study of the lament can provide important resources for our contemporary work of theology and ministry.
1. The lament manifests Israel at its best, giving authentic expression to the real experiences of life. Israel never wavered concerning the data or substance of its religion, knowing that it had to be about the real experiences of life. A study of the lament may be a corrective for some religion in the church that wishes to withdraw from life as it really is, to pretense and romance in the unreal world of heavenly or holy things. The lament makes clear that faith and worship deal with and are shaped by life as it comes to us.
2. Israel unflinchingly saw and affirmed that life as it comes, along with joys, is beset by hurt, betrayal, loneliness, disease, threat, anxiety, bewilderment, anger, hatred, and anguish. The study of the lament may suggest a correcdve to the euphoric, celebradve notions of faith