WS Update: Lament and Davos

January 23, 2023

At last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos there were so many global troubles on the table a new buzzword was adopted – polycrisis. The word refers to the “swirl of global emergencies that include economic slowdowns and rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and more” (DealBook Newsletter, January 17). Of course you don’t have to travel to Switzerland to know the various crises that confront us, but it is a reminder of what can feel at times like an overwhelming stream of discouraging news. In yesterday’s sermon, I mentioned that the Biblical response to those moments of polycrisis is lament. Mordechai learned of the genocidal plan of King Xerxes and immediately “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly” (Esther 4:1). It’s a reminder, as Emmanuel Katongole wrote in the book Reconciling All Things, that:

The first language of the church in a deeply broken world is not strategy, but prayer (that) sees and encounters the rupture of this world so truthfully that we are literally slowed down. We are called to a space … where the right response can only be a desperate cry directed to God. We are called to learn the anguished cry of lament.

Why lament? Because lament gives voice to and confronts us with the reality of suffering in a way that takes our grief and bitterness to God, which in the end is a bridge from despair to hope because by coming into God’s presence we are reminded of our dependence on him and his promise to one day restore all things. So on this Monday morning when you are tempted to despair or cynicism because of the latest negative headlines, pray the Psalm below as a way to connect with the grief and suffering of those around you, be comforted by the God who hears, and to live in a way that brings the light and hope of Jesus as you head out the door.

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago.

Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
You are the God who performs miracles;
You display your power among the people.

Psalm 77

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