Why: the practice of lament and agony, surviving through abandonment.
For a while, I pretended everything was fine.
I tried harder, finessed my formulas, perfected
I was sure the setback was momentary.
The regularly scheduled program would soon resume
Broadcasting, and all would be fine soon.
Soon took too long.
My denial didn’t work.
Turning to you didn’t work, so then
I turned on you.
My hopes, I feared, had been misplaced.
So I raged.
Something had to give.
So I made my demands clear.
I issued ultimata.
I threatened infidelity.
I tried my best to back you into a corner.
You neither gave, complied, negotiated, nor
Capitulated. Nor did you retaliate.
I played my last, best card.
Why does it have to be this way?
I am not demanding an answer.
Through my why, I am expressing the fact that I have no answer.
I am not damning the apparent senselessness of things.
I am accepting that if there is sense to be made,
I don’t have it.
So even now, answerless,
I am still talking to you, or toward you at least,
Or toward the memory of you,
Or the hope of you,
Still hoping you hear.
Disappointed in the God I thought I knew,
I pray to the God who may be.
In my unbelief, I believe
Why have I been abandoned?
Why have I been disappointed?
Why must this be so hard?
Why must it be this way?
“Psalm of the Survivor (Song of the Blackbird)”
O God, where were you?
Did you not see?
Did you not care?
Could you not stop it?
I was victimized and terrorized
My enemy was not supposed to be my enemy
So my enemy wounded my soul even more deeply
The violence denied my joy, masked my beauty, and stole my hope
My enemy violated me in ways that blocked out the sun
And brought forth the rain, wind, and thunder
It shook and cracked my foundation
And did damage that could never be totally repaired
Suddenly, in the midst of that storm, Jesus became a kindred spirit
He, too, was beaten bloody by his enemies
He, too, was in a fight that was not fair
He, too, prayed for God to protect him from abusive powers
Jesus and I cannot mystify the violence that was done to us
It was wrong
It should have been different
It must never happen again
Our silence will not protect us
That is why I must cry out for justice
And for Jesus
We know the pain of being strung up on our crosses
Such torture and humiliation tamps out everything that resembles real life
The suffering caused by our enemies isn’t virtuous or character-building
And it wasn’t part of God’s will for our lives
Salvation doesn’t come from violence
It never has
It never will
Salvation comes from resurrection
Resurrection is love, not fear
Resurrection is compassion, not control
Resurrection is resistance, not acceptance
Resurrection is advocacy, not passivity
Resurrection celebrates acts of resilience in the aftermath of violence
Resurrection squeezes out hope from places where it may not typically thrive
Resurrection opens up the process of forgiveness for the sake of wholeness
Resurrection senses God’s presence in moments of healing and strength
Resurrection is the song of the blackbird
Sung from the rawness of shadow and pain
Yet managing to find a tune of hope in the discord of despair
A song written on the journey from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven
The song of the blackbird is for people like Jesus and me
People who refuse to let our enemies steal our lives
People who know the power of resurrection firsthand
People who praise God for every scrap of salvation that comes our way
The song of the blackbird declares that there is a balm in Gilead
It inspires me look back with disgust instead of hatred
It empowers me to look forward with purpose instead of emptiness
It calls me to prayerful anticipation of a better future
God joins me as I boldly sing the song of the blackbird
And I will sing that song as long as I have the breath of life
It’s the most sacred hymn I know
It’s a hymn of survival that even blackbirds like Jesus and I can sing
O God, I trust in your steadfast love
And rejoice in your salvation
You have brought me moments of resurrection
And those moments grow longer and more powerful each day
“Of Lament and Hope (Psalm 13)”
How long, O God
Will you keep me waiting here?
How long, O God
Til You recognize my tears?
How long will I bear grief in my soul,
Carry this sorrow night and day?
How long til I am whole?
God, look at me.
Don’t turn Your face away.
God, answer me,
Before darkness overtakes.
Before my path is overcome,
And all that oppose me rejoice.
How long will you be gone?
But as for me, I trust in Your love.
I rejoice in the help that You give.
To You I sing for Your goodness to me;
In You I trust, in You I live
In You I trust, in You I live
In You I live
These two have me dead to rights… thanks, Brian, I can’t tell you what a relief is it so see my own heart is not a secret, that this knife edge is not a dead end… “God joins me as I boldly sing the song of the blackbird / And I will sing that song as long as I have the breath of life / … It’s a hymn of survival that even blackbirds like Jesus and I can sing”—gave me a good, healthy cry, and I feel a little more sure of my step.
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