10 T4ML #4 Acknowledge the challenge

(10 Things For Ministers in Another Lockdown)

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

It’s all very well to remember that God loves us, but it’s hard, right? There’s uncertainty and the attendant lack of control. People are sick. People are at risk. We’re stuck at home. Many are trying to do our usual work. Many have children to care for. Many have parents they are concerned about. We’re not sure when this will end. Will this end? How long will we need to live like this? How long?

Just as we’re invited to look back, to draw on past strength; to live into and out of our values; to lean into God, we’re also invited to name the challenge. There’s a good amount of that in the Bible! Lament. I write in an upcoming article (citing Robert Beamish): “Those who suffer need time to acknowledge the reality of their suffering.” We shouldn’t rush past the pain. Rather, we name it. Hold space for it.

There are rich resources in the Hebrew scriptures that we can draw on: Psalms of Lament, the book of Lamentations, for example. Lament doesn’t prematurely move to explanations or solutions that fail to touch the heart. Preaching at such a time can create space to honestly talk about both God and about the context that we find ourselves in. Naming the difficulty of the current reality. Not rushing towards a solution. Sitting with the pain. Not because there is no hope, but because we humans need space to acknowledge our big feelings. To name them before God.

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Lynne is Jack Somerville Senior Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Otago University; Director and Researcher for AngelWings Ltd; and, most importantly, wife-of-Steve; mumma of Shannon and Kayli; and daughter, sister, friend, aunt (and other essential relational connections). She’s passionate about helping people discover and grow in relationship with God. Also coffee. And creativity. And sunrises. Beaches. All sorts of good things.

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