President Joel N. Lohr and Dr. Joel S. Kaminsky of Smith College have co-written an article, “Complaint as Spiritual Act,” for the Interfaith Youth Core website.
It opens with a look at the Book of Psalms and the “striking number of individual and communal complaints that contain very strong indictments of God.”
They write, “Much of the continuing power of this fascinating book is that it compellingly communicates the pain and suffering that are too frequently a part of our human experience. It might be said that the theme that pervades these psalms is distress. Some have estimated that lament psalms constitute over half of the psalms in the Psalter. Many of these psalms contain insights concerning the articulation of pain and how one learns to work through life’s difficulties and still embrace God.”
In addressing the crises we face today, Dr. Lohr and Dr. Kaminsky add: “In recent months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing a tragedy that often leaves us feeling helpless and traumatized. While it would be pointless to deny that various human actions or inactions have either exacerbated or ameliorated some of the effects of the virus, most recognize that it is theologically problematic to view the virus as a punishment sent from God. To add to this, in recent days our attention has been drawn to instances of racial injustice, leaving many of us calling out the Psalmist’s words: “How long, O Lord?” or “You have made us like sheep for slaughter.”
“In these situations, we pray to God, not only for the strength to endure, but also to express a range of other emotions, including anger with God. Psalms like these help us articulate the complex set of feelings that pain and suffering—especially when experienced as undeserved or excessive—evokes in human beings and religious communities.”
To read the full article, visit this link.