As Health Care Safety Net Rends, A Time for Lament

Molly T. Marshall


As Health Care Safety Net Rends, A Time for Lament | Molly Marshall, Psalms, Lament, Healthcare, Human Rights, Prayer

Preserving the wealth of the few by sacrificing the poor is unworthy of a nation who claims moral status, Marshall writes.

Many are anxious as a rending of the health care safety net is transpiring.

Decisions are underway that threaten to exclude a growing sector of the population from basic access.

The tension between federal and state responsibilities will only grow, and each will resort to blaming the other. Preserving the wealth of the few by sacrificing the poor is unworthy of a nation who claims moral status.

A reading for this coming Sunday from Psalm 13:1-3 expresses the frustration and lament so many of us feel about the political landscape:

"How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide yourself from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemies be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death."

I will refrain from naming "enemies," for elected officials have an insuperable burden in seeking to govern; however, to craft legislation because of personal vendetta against the ideas of others is an expression of corrupt character.

It is very hard to transcend pettiness, but our time calls for heightened rectitude.

The Psalter offers words to express our deepest emotions. Raw and unbridled, this psalm of lament gathers up the present moment.

While persons of faith trust that God has not forgotten them, it is hard to believe that their particular plight matters in the larger scheme.

Psalms of lament are addressed to God, for where else can the downtrodden go? Who else can renew courage to cry out against injustice and not lose heart? Who else can we trust with our raging fear?

There are more psalms of lament than of sheer praise in the Psalter, and they invite the most honest kind of prayer.

If there is no room for lament in our private and corporate prayer, we only offer sanitized superficialities. When the people of God gather, the pews sag with unspoken grief and personal suffering.

It is time to dust off the Psalter and let its powerful words direct our prayer and heal our wounded hearts. Especially now.

Molly T. Marshall is president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) in Shawnee, Kansas. A version of this column first appeared on her blog, Trinitarian Soundings, and is used with permission. You can follow CBTS on Twitter @CBTSKansas.