“I wept and wept…” (Revelation 5:1-7)
In a recent, much quoted article written by NT Write, the well-known New Testament scholar wrote that in these days of the devastating pandemic Christians who embrace rationalism want explanations: why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign? On the other hand, Christian Romantics want to be given a sigh of relief, a sign that things are getting better. But perhaps what we need more than either, Wright wrote, is to recover the biblical tradition of lament. Lament is what we ought to do when we look beyond our own fears and self-centred worries and see the inexplicable suffering around us, with no apparent signs of relieve. See Wright’s article at: https://time.com/5808495/coronaviruschristianity/?fbclid=IwAR0hP7ZPp5LO0Za0XHidZI9DXlqoN6eJMlmrWhoXioRswyacgJZ5tjuCAs
The Bible is full of examples of people (the faithful) lamenting and crying out to the Lord, for example many Psalms (see Ps 13, 31:9-13, 88, 89:46-51). Maybe the deepest lament we find in Ps 22, from where the cry Jesus uttered on the cross originated: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1). Lament is not just good as a therapeutic outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments, writes Wright. God entered into our broken world, joining us in our sorrow, embracing us. That is our deepest consolation.
When John had a vision of the throne of God, (Revelation 5), he saw in the right hand of the One on the throne a scroll written on both sides, sealed with seven seals. This was symbolic of the knowledge of Gods providence, of what is to come of this broken, plagued world. But nobody who would be worthy enough to open the seals and look into the scroll could be found. This was too much for John. He lamented bitterly. He wept and wept…
But then he was comforted, because he was pointed to the Lion of Judah, who triumphed and who was able to open the scroll. But then, then he suddenly realised, the Lion was actually a Lamb, the Lamb who has been slain! Not the Lion, but the crucified Christ, the Paschal Lamb – God who entered our suffering and took it upon God self – who “went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne” (Revelation 5:7).
In our lamenting, in our crying before God, this is our deepest comfort, that the slaughtered Lamb, the God who entered our brokenness and suffering, embracing it, embracing us, lamented with us and on our behalf: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, that He is the One who has the scroll of the present and future, our shared existence, the final meaning of everything, in his hands. (GvdW)