Good morning! Happy Anniversary to my parents! AND we are exactly one week away from Christmas Eve! Can you believe it?
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
What does it mean for a soul to long for something?
I know I have talked about this before but there are images that pop into my head when I read these songs of lament. I immediately think of when my cat sits at the door and meows longingly. He is calling us to let him out. He is only allowed outside if we are going to be around and he is only allowed outside during certain times of the day. Just before we let him out, he meows and meows. And it is pitiful and soulful and deep from inside of him. He so longs to be outside.
I think of when I have people in my office who yearn and long for answers to whatever big questions they bring. I know that I can’t answer the big questions but just listen to their yearning. A person’s longing for the answer to “why this and now” is deep. It is full of longing for God to be present. And those questions can be heartbreaking.
I think of when we get together and talk about awful things happening in the world. Another shooting. Another natural disaster that leaves families without homes. Another place where people are starving. Oh, how I wish and long for God to swoop in and take away pain and tell us why this happens. Like searching for water, I yearn for God to show up.
And lately I have been thinking a lot about when someone loses someone dear and close. The longing to see them again drives everything. Thursday will be my grandparent’s 70th wedding anniversary. I am certain that my grandfather hasn’t really left my grandmother because she sees him everyday. But then when she is away from him and it is confusing, she so yearns for him to be there. We all also yearn for him to be here. I can only imagine other longings…like searching for water…like searching for God…are so deep and dear.
Lament runs deep. And for some reason, we tend to shy away from it. Especially during the holidays. We can’t possibly admit that perhaps this season isn’t shaping up into the grand holiday it is meant to be. It is not all miracles and new life and joy but sometimes it is that deep longing for our people, our answers, for God to be present. Where are you God? I am thirsty here and you are supposed to show up. I long for you. when was the last time I felt your full presence?
The beautiful thing about lament and especially about the psalms of lament are that there is always a glimmer of hope in their. In the midst of longing is still God’s goodness. The Psalmists always acknowledge that in the midst of deep sorrow, God has always given us good things. For the cat, it is getting to finally go outside. For the person needing answers, there is a community ready to struggle with. For the most awful things in the world, God somehow shows up alongside with. And people are ready to take action. For our missed loved ones, we are not alone. And we have those alongside us willing to acknowledge our missing pieces and to sit with us.
Advent is a season of that longing. Of that yearning. Of that waiting for God to walk alongside. And we will be healthier if we can acknowledge our deep sadness in the midst of it.