One of the most satisfying things I have done in the nearly three years since my husband and I got married has been teaching my stepson the art of punnery. Yes, that’s a word, at least it is in the Urban Dictionary and I’m going with it.
I will not soon forget a couple of Christmases ago when instead of saying, “But wait, there’s more” my stepson said “But wait, there’s myrrh”. (Think Magi and their gifts.) We all had a good laugh at that one. He will still say it occasionally, but it is definitely more frequent the closer we get to Christmas.
Of course in this instance myrrh is a stand-in for more. But wait, there’s more! This exclamation was heard from the pitch person on more than one old-school infomercial. They are enthusiastically selling you their product and just when you think the deal can’t get any better – Hello! – the deal gets much better. Well, okay, maybe not much better, but they do add something to the deal. It’s often that you will get two sets of the product for the (inflated) price of one, or they add a bonus to it (my favorite was the bamboo steamer which was frequently added when you bought a set of Ginsu knives.) The point is, just about the time you think they are finished you find out that they are not finished. There’s more.
One of today’s lectionary verses is from the book of Lamentations. A lament is a passionate expression of sorrow or grief. Some of us have lost the art of lamenting in our lives, partly because there are people around us who don’t want to hear laments. Rarely, if ever. They want the rest of us to keep our sorrow and grief to ourselves so they don’t have to deal with it, usually because they don’t know how to deal with it.
Sometimes it helps to lament, at least privately if not publicly. It helps to acknowledge and release those feelings of sorrow and grief, and sometimes fear, and sometimes even despair. As someone who struggles with chronic depression I can attest to the value of lament. But I also confess that I try to keep my public lamentation to a minimum. Even supportive people get tired of it, and one of my fears is that they will get tired of me. I’m truly not asking for affirmation or reassurance or helpful suggestions here. I’m just stating what it’s like for me. You might have a different perspective or experience.
Lamentations 3:55 relates, “I called on thy name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;” This person is clearly in a bad place. It’s possible they were in an actual pit, but much more likely that it is a metaphorical pit. It is the feeling of being down, deep down, in a place from which escape is difficult if not impossible.
But, as you can see from the semicolon at the end of the verse, there’s more. There’s more to verse. There’s more to the chapter. There’s more to the Bible. There’s more to life.
Sometimes life is hard, really hard. Some of us experience that hardness more often and more deeply than others, but everybody experiences some of it. It’s good to have the reminder that even when we are in a literal or metaphorical pit, it doesn’t end there.
Some things in life we can control, other things in life we cannot control. Personally I rarely have as much control as I want over my life, but as I’ve grown older (and hopefully wiser) I find that I am more comfortable with less control. Most days. Some days not. Today is one of those days when I am not comfortable. I am fearful. And resentful. I want to scream at God, “Hey! I’m here! Listen to me! Help me! I don’t want to feel this way! I don’t want my life to be like this!”
The thing is, my life is good. Really good. I have everything I need for today. I have God, even if I am screaming as though God is hard of hearing. I have people I love and people who love me. But the reality is that sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. This verse, and verses like it, reminds me that it doesn’t end here.
God hears our cries, but that doesn’t mean relief is instantaneous. Sometimes we just have to be still and wait. Or keep working and wait. Or listen and wait. Or focus on something else and wait.
One thing is sure. It doesn’t end there.