Scripture: Genesis 21: 1-7
Before Father Abraham, “had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham,” there was just a sad and lonely old couple rocking on their porch, dreaming about what could have, or rather, should have been. Ok, so maybe it was sitting cross-legged and crying at the edge of the tent, but you get the idea. The story doesn’t end here. Sarah: “God has brought laughter to me… Who would have ever said to us that we would nurse children? Yet now (by God’s grace), I have borne old geezer Abe a son!”
Something from nothing. Barrenness to a belly full of blessing!
This last August, my wife gave birth to our son Isaac. We had our son Gus five years earlier. We had experienced much disappointment in our journey to a second child. The first blush of hope was always dashed with ash. And yet, again by God’s grace - little chubby, ever drooling, perma-smiling Isaac came into our life as pure gift. Maybe you sit on your porch or your couch or at the edge of your bed questioning God’s goodness. Why barrenness and hopelessness? Why so much promise Lord and so little fulfilment?
It has been said that Israel’s core testimony is that of God’s grace and goodness. This is the same for us who have come to know Jesus. This is the context of our lives and our ministry. And yet, the counter-testimony is what we experience as a people who live in the gap between how things are and how things are supposed to be in God’s good world.
The counter-testimony is perhaps how we feel more days than not. “God, why are you so unfair?” We lament. This is nothing new. The backbone and most common prayer in the Psalms is the lament. This is Scripture. God invites us to lament. However, the trajectory of lament is to carry us to a place of praise (doxology).
Now be clear, I say this not just because things, “worked out” for Kris and I, but because whether it is today or tomorrow or at the resurrection and re-creation of all things, God will eliminate the gap between how things are as we experience them now and how things ought to be according to God’s good promise.
As we catch up with Jesus and journey further into this desert wandering we call Lent, my hope is that you lament about the places in life where you experience the gap between how things are as you experience them today, and how things are to be in God’s good created world. But be forewarned, for there is One who is able to turn those many cries into an unstoppable chorus of laughter. Thanks be to God!
~Erik Anderson, Faith Covenant Church, Winnipeg, MB