Sunday, August 10, 2008

quote of the week - Michael Card: lament in confession of sin

Depending on which commentary you pick up, you'll read that from one-third to over one-half of the psalms are laments. With the exception of one psalm (88), each lament turns eventually to praise, revealing an important truth that has been lost; lament is one of the most direct paths to the true praise we know we have lost. In fact, lament is not a path to worship, but the path of worship.

[There is] a time to weep.
But there exists within American Christianity a numb denial of our need for lament. Some theologians go so far as to say these biblical laments no longer apply to us. And so the language of confession sounds stranger and stranger to our ears. It is heard less and less in our churches, and when it is voiced, rarely are our sins genuinely lamented. Through lament, we regain both a sense of awareness and a language to express the hopeless depth of our sin. We discover a way to enter the Presence and there experience the despair that comes as a result of unconfessed sin. After all, can sins be sincerely confessed until their lamentable-ness is deeply felt by us and submitted to God for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus?

Our inability or refusal to enter into personal lament betrays the fact that we do not recognize the depth of our sin. We stubbornly refuse to have our hearts broken by it. The only result is that our sins continue to break the heart of God. It is only after lamenting our sin that our eyes can be truly open to the glorious truth that we stand forgiven, with the righteousness of Christ, and realize that we are in the Presence of the One who has heard our cries with tender and sympathetic ears.

Apart from lament, you and I are robbed of our true identity before God. We remain unaware of the depth of our fallen identities as sinners and blind to the reality and depth of the costly forgiveness that is offered to us through Jesus Christ. Confession is lament for the sin that began in the Garden. The painful honesty confession demands is the fabric of all lament, as is the deep need for forgiveness and restoration to God's Presence. It is as if worship and confession are one holy fabric held together by strands of lament.

The laments of Scripture can help us relearn this lost language. Characters like Job, David, Jeremiah, and even Jesus provide us paradigms of lament. They all freely spoke the language of lament that in the end cost them so much. They demonstrated for us lives lived in the freedom of lament. This book is simply an attempt to look at their lives and listen to their laments. This is not a book about some new way to get what we want from God. Rather, it is a biblical exploration of the spiritual lives of four broken men who gave up all they ever wanted to discover what it was that God wanted most to give.

Michael Card, A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in The Lost Language of Lament, 21-22


preacherman said...

Thank you for sharing this from Michael Card. He is a man who has definately inspired my life with his songs and books. Ted I hope you have a blessed week in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Kinney. He has a good gift in both! This book is particularly encourgaging to those of us who feel down quite often. Michael is with us, and he points out from Scripture that we're on to something, really- as I just read in connection with this on a review done on a book on depression which I'm looking forward to reading.

Blessed week for you and yours, as well!