We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
Reflection: A Generational Lament
By John Tillman
Psalm 44, attributed to the Sons of Korah, seems to be written by a generation who knows the tales of the miracles of God but hasn’t experienced them. The bright and inspiring victories of the previous generation have faded into stories. In their world there is no prosperity. In their world there is little security. In their world they experience only danger and disappointment.
Young Christians today can identify with the crisis of faith portrayed in this pleading psalm. For many Millennials and those in Gen Z, prior generations of prosperity and ease have melted into a constant fear of scarcity. They are threatened by things no one wants to address. They experience dangers that they didn’t create which threaten their lives and livelihoods.
Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson wrote poignantly in 1989 that, “Every generation blames the one before,” but then as now, blame is hurled at every generation by every generation. Old and young scoff at each other’s sufferings, separating into camps of division and bias.
Instead of dividing, Christians can choose to unite in lament for our various sufferings. Those who take their complaints to the Lord in faith will not be turned away or scoffed at by our God. God accepts the prayer of the despairing and the cries of the frustrated and broken more quickly than the prayers of the proud and the self-assured requests of those who think themselves worthy.
Prayers of lament and complaint are a healthy and fulfilling spiritual practice that can be entered into by individuals and communities. Lament is more than complaining. It is an act of faith undertaken in the belief that God will hear and God will act.
We can see the fruit of faithful, complaining prayer in the other psalms of the Sons of Korah. Later in Psalm 48, the Sons of Korah will proclaim that they have both heard and seen good things from the Lord:
As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love…
For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.
— Psalm 48.8-9, 14
Lamenting together for our sufferings lifts us into the presence of God and acknowledges that those we share this world with matter to God and to us.
Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous stumble. — Psalm 55.24
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Numbers 8 (Listen – 3:27)
Psalm 44 (Listen – 2:44)
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Read more about Lamenting Materialism :: A Guided Prayer
We confess that we equate security and safety with the accumulation of wealth. We store up for many years and say to ourselves, “I am secure.”
Read more about Lamenting Our Detestable Things
Just as ancients made idols from their environment—the sun in the sky, a stone from the ground, a tree from the forest—we make idols from our environment. Ours are less likely to be made of durable goods.