Theology of Place

May 15, 2015

I actually wrote a rumination earlier in the week but Ellen told me it was too… depressing… for the week after Mothers Day. So, always being in agreement with my wife, here’s this week’s edition.

I teach the adult Sunday School class at our church. It’s not as well attended as I would like but I suppose that is the case more often than not. For some reason adults think they are no longer in need of “learning” about the faith. What a tragic mistake that is! I suppose it could also be because the teacher is dreadful??? NAH! Anyway, since we don’t meet in the summer, and we have a special event this coming Sunday, last week was our final class until September. It was sort of a “So, what do you want to talk about today?” kind of class.

We ended up looking at my favorite Psalm. Psalm 77 to be exact. You may or may not know that there are different genres of Psalms. There are thanksgiving Psalms, praise Psalms, royal Psalms, etc. The most prominent of the 150 in the collection are called “lament Psalms.” Essentially they are songs or poems about someone or a group of “someones” who have had some sort of tragedy (usually unspecified) and consequently they are going through a difficult time. They are often wondering where God is in the midst of their struggles. Sometimes they have trouble sleeping, praying and they even wonder if they might die. Does that sound familiar to any of you? Today we might diagnose depression. And it is possible that depression is the context for these Psalms. Look at these few verses:

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.

The question is… how does the author of this Psalm deal with his distress? What does he do about the fact that God seems far away… and maybe no longer cares?

Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?

Basically the author decides to reminisce. He chooses to remember back to a time when God was undeniable and his power was unmistakable.

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

There are places in my life, both physical and emotional, where I can go and find comfort. From a spiritual perspective there are places where I can retreat where I know that God is real, loving and cares about me. Sometimes it requires me to remember back; to recall a time when God was so present I could almost reach out and touch Him.

Do you have a place like that in your life: a place where God is very real; a place where you can go to have your faith restored; a place to go when things seem hopeless?   I really hope you do. None of us are able to walk this faith without help and places of comfort and solace. If you don’t have a place… make one.



One thought on “Theology of Place

  1. I wish I was still living in Elizabeth Twp . – you would have another eager pupil in your Sunday School class .

    Thanks for taking time to write your weekly ‘Ruminations’ .


    Sent from my iPad


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