What is Holy Discontent? Well, for one, it is the title I have chosen for a sermon series that will take us through the next 7 weeks of our fall worship cycle. But what am I intending to convey with these words, you might wonder?
“Holy Discontent” as I am hoping to define it, is a feeling of unease about the injustices we see in the world. In scripture it is, among other examples, the moment Jesus stops on his way to the Holy City, and cries out “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together…” (Matthew 23:27). Holy Discontent is Jeremiah, the likely writer of the book of Lamentations, who cries out to God in poetic lament upon the destruction and overthrow of Jerusalem, and the many sufferings of the people, at the hand of the Babylonian invaders.
And for us, Holy Discontent is a desire to seek Jesus and live faithfully as his disciples, while seeking justice for a broken world. We too have become disheartened and discouraged by the suffering we see in the world. When gun violence and mass shootings take the lives of innocents, we cry out to God. When destructive storms and floods wreak havoc, leaving scores of lives in pieces, we seek God’s help. When the vulnerable are trampled, forgotten, or ignored, we long for God’s better way. Each of these are examples of Holy Discontent.
We should note at the outset that Holy Discontent is not complaining to God about our lives. It is not whining, or leaving matters only to others, when we might act and make a difference. But, as Soong-Chan Rah writes in his commentary on Lamentations:
True reconciliation, justice and shalom require a remembering of suffering, an unearthing of a shameful history and a willingness to enter into Lament. Lament calls for an authentic encounter with the truth and challenges privilege, because privilege would hid the truth that creates discomfort.
— Prophetic Lament, pg. 58
We have all been feeling the weight of an unendingly hopeless news cycle, of tragedies of various sorts, and of harsh forms of injustice in the world. This Holy Discontent series is not an invitation to wallow in self-pity, but it is an opportunity to seek God’s help in a Biblical way, calling out that which is bad and evil in the world, turning to God instead of despair, and finding reasons for joy and hope in the midst of all this, because Jesus is greater still.