Thus says the LORD, “A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.” ~ Jeremiah 31:15
The stories of the Bible we’re most familiar with are often those that end with “and he went his way rejoicing.” Healings, pronouncements of forgiveness, joyous reunions (think prodigal son), and the like dominate our Sunday readings and much of the biblical material that is dealt with in popular Christian books. Beyond these happy stories, we might know some hard sayings of Jesus where Jesus really takes the Pharisees to the woodshed on this or that issue. Yet the Bible is much richer, and reaches much deeper into life than this.
As the passage above demonstrates, the Bible goes down to the very bottom of human experience, to most indescribable pains that anyone can experience. The loss of children who aren’t raised from the dead, incurable illnesses that don’t end in miraculous healings, the loss of all hope that is never restored—all of this can be found in the scriptures, and I’m convinced that one of the reasons that people who are experiencing the worst of life so often leave the church, is because we so rarely venture to the Bible’s dark places.
During the month of November, I’ll be offering a class and Bible study following Sunday worship in which we’ll visit some of these dark places: Through the Fire: The Bible for Mourners, Worriers, Addicts, the Depressed, and Other Troubled Souls: Sundays, November 6, 13, 20, & 27, 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. Everyone is invited.
As we open the Bible to these harder stories, it’s my hope that we’ll see that the Bible actually has something to say to us when we find ourselves in similarly difficult circumstances. Because if the Bible can tell an ugly story without flinching—if it can speak of the slaughter of children, if it can tell of a people who repent and yet still receive judgment, if it can record the life of a good man reduced to ashes for no reason, if it can tell of Jesus Christ crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” on the cross—if it can do all this and still declare the goodness of God, then the promise of this God in Jesus Christ must have some real power, even for the God-forsaken among us.
I hope you’ll join us in class.