Eye of the Hurricane: finding peace and hope Part 1

 

Finding Peace in the Midst of Crisis

Eye of the Hurricane

“We can grieve, cry out, clench our fists, and ask God why, under the conviction that our God cares for us and loves us enough to speak to us, even in tragedy. How is it possible for people like us-so skilled in putting a happy face on even the worst of circumstances, so desirous of cheap consolation- to stare tragedy in the face and to tell the truth about it?…In the midst of the most desperate lamentation, mourning the worst tragedies, our God is there, with us…Perpetually joyful believers who never need Lamentations are self-centered, self-consumed believers who feel none of the pain of the rest of the world. The psalms of lament provide good Jewish ballast to our sometimes superficial and just a bit too cheerful Christian piety.” William H. Willimon

 

Picking a fight with God

Quick! Fill in the blank:

God is _____.

God is light.

God is love.

How about:

God is a Grizzly bear tearing me to pieces.

God is the archer and I’m the target.

The first thing I’ve learned about finding peace in the midst of a crisis is that honest ugly emotions are preferable to faked nice ones. The poet who wrote the book of Lamentations accused God of being like a bear tearing him to pieces and an archer using him for target practice, every arrow hit the bulls-eye straight through his kidneys. (Lamentations 3:10-13) These cruel word pictures weren’t hidden away in secret diaries. They were used in public worship.

Surprisingly, there is no indication that anyone was hit by lightning after talking about God this way.

The hot words of Lamentations give me permission to lay the whole raw-meat state of my emotions bare before God when I need to. It would be ludicrous to try to lie to God anyway. Like many Christians I used to think it was wrong to feel anger, but the Bible never says that. God wants to show me a vibrant, intimate relationship with the only being who loves perfectly. Since I am far from perfect, and life hurts, sometimes this involves a loud argument between me and God. Buddhism teaches people to deny desire and deaden emotion. Christianity teaches us to bring everything we are to God instead.

Choosing to remember, a path to peace

The poet pours out his pain then he intentionally shifts his focus. This is important. Anger is sticky and some people get trapped in it like flies on flypaper.  Instead, in time, the poet moves away from anger by forcing himself to remember truth. He rehearses the truth about who God is. The words are beautiful, but they aren’t filled with imagery. It seems like at his point they are coming from the poet’s head, but not from his heart. Maybe he forces himself to remember who God is even though he still feels like God is more like a hunting lion than like a good shepherd.

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;” (Lamentations 3:21-22 )

I can do the same thing. After I vent all my hopelessness and anger in prayer I can remember, at least mentally if not emotionally, that God never stops loving me and no crisis could ever blow him away, not even a hurricane.

I thought you might also enjoy a song exploring this idea. Click on the title and it will take you to the song. Eye of the Hurricane by Me in Motion 

 

This post was prompted by my “Eye of the Hurricane” talk, based in part on Lamentations 3. I had a great time recently talking about these things with a group of young mothers.

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This is part 1 of several blogs about this subject. More to come…

 

 

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4 Responses to Eye of the Hurricane: finding peace and hope Part 1

  1. Katie Sturm March 12, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I loved this Beth! Can’t wait to read part 11.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What to do When you Can’t Find Hope through the Fog | Beth Ratzlaff - March 26, 2014

    […] Lamenting often begins with honest anger. Sometimes that anger is directed at God. It continues with remembering what we know to be true, even though we aren’t experiencing it. To read more about these ideas The Eye of the Hurricane part 1. […]

  2. Lightning, Sand, and my Faults | Beth Ratzlaff - March 19, 2014

    […] is part 3 of a short series about lamenting based on Lamentations 3. Click here for part 1“Eye of the Hurricane” . Click here for part 2 “3 Strong Women Speak about […]

  3. 3 Strong Women Speak About Silence | Beth Ratzlaff - March 12, 2014

    […] is part 2 of a series about finding peace in the middle of difficult circumstances. Part 1 talked about the value of venting to God then rehearsing what is true about […]

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