Daily Riches: Church – Where ‘Never Is Heard a Discouraging Word’ (Walter Brueggemann)

“One loss that results from the absence of lament is the loss of genuine covenant interaction, since the second party to the covenant (the petitioner) has become voiceless or has a voice that is permitted to speak only praise and doxology. Where lament is absent, covenant comes into being only as a celebration of joy and well-being. Or in political categories, the greater party is surrounded by subjects who are always ‘yes-men and women’ from whom ‘never is heard a discouraging word.’ Since such a celebrative, consenting silence does not square with reality, covenant minus lament is finally a practice of denial, cover-up, and pretense, which sanctions social control. …We can draw a suggestive analogy from this understanding of the infant/mother relationship for our study of the lament. Where there is lament, the believer is able to take initiative with God and so develop over against God the ego-strength that is necessary for responsible faith. But where the capacity to initiate lament is absent, one is left only with praise and doxology. God then is omnipotent, always to be praised. …The absence of lament makes a religion of coercive obedience the only possibility. I do not suggest that biblical faith be reduced to psychological categories, but I find this parallel suggestive. It suggests that the God who evokes and responds to lament is neither omnipotent in any conventional sense nor surrounded by docile reactors. Rather, this God is like a mother who dreams with this infant, that the infant may some day grow into a responsible, mature covenant partner who can enter into serious communion and conversation. In such … there comes genuine obedience, which is not a contrived need to please, but a genuine, yielding commitment. What is at issue here, as Calvin understood so well, is a true understanding of the human self but, at the same time, a radical discernment of this God who is capable of and willing to be respondent and not only initiator.” Walter Brueggemann

“I will look to see what he will say to me.” Habakkuk 2:1

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is your relationship with God limited to praise?
  • Do you, does your church, practice “a consenting silence” that “sanctions social control?”
  • Can you imagine God wants you not only for a respondent but an “initiator?”

Abba, help me be the partner you desire.

For More: The Psalms by Patrick Miller, editor


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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