Mourning in the Jewish imagination is not a foreign emotion. Mourning has deeply historical connotations for the Hebrew People of God.
Mourning in the Drama of God’s PeopleThe majority of the time mourning is spoken of in the Old Testament, it is intrinsically connected to the feeling that God is absent. There are passages like Lamentations 1 – “Zion’s roads mourn, for no one comes to her, all her gateways are desolate, her young women grieve, bitter anguish is her voice. Her children have gone into exile with no one to hear their cries. The Lord has left us in grief.” The writer of Psalm 22 says “My God, My God why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my cries of anguish? I cry out by day but you do not answer me?”
There are numerous snapshots of this theme running through the drama of God’s people. To be in a place of mourning is to grieve the perceived loss of God’s presence.
This statement might make us feel uncomfortable since we cling to sentiments like “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yet life does pummel us- at times stripping us of any sense that God is available- our prayers become dry, our circumstances are not remedied, and our existential crisis increases.
Scripture, and the silence in between the Testaments, displays the overwhelming scope of grief that the People of God felt. There are 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament, in which we have no record of any prophetic utterances. A Jewish Rabbi says of this time that “God was a world away.”
Although we are now deep in what the Liturgical calendar calls “ordinary time,” I’m still working to apply the lessons I learned from Lent. I’m more convinced than ever that we need healing space in our real-time communities for the season that people journey through. We must permit people to confess their complicated emotions that God seems to have let them down. To feel this should not drive us out of community but draw us deeper into belonging.