I know that my redeemer lives … He lives to hear my soul’s complaint” CW 154
“My soul’s complaint.” That is an interesting phrase. Too often, we think of things being “well with our souls.” The thought that a soul can have a complaint is interesting. David’s words in Psalm 13 come to mind:
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (New International Version, 2011)
David expresses a sense of isolation, and even, betrayal. His heart his heavy; his soul complains. People have often called such a cry, a lament. A lament may have the sound and feel of betrayal and abandonment.
It has been suggested, however, that a believer’s lament is actually an opportunity to engage with God in making sense of things gone wrong in an effort to find resolution and hope. Even though there are unanswered questions and there is the existence of evil and injustice, the Lord is still good.
A Christian lament is grounded in the hope of future reorientation.
Consider the 7 words of our Savior as he spoke from the cross: “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” There is lament. There is empowerment. There is hope of future reorientation.
To sit with suffering is to also find a companion in this life. The harsh realities of this life will wage war on our faith in Christ. We have one who fights in our stead, however. He knows our laments and sings with us, even in those moments. That is because Jesus never forgets the pain of the hearts he has bought.
The Easter hymn, “I Know My Redeemer Lives” is based on a statement from the life of an Old Testament believer named, Job. Job knew heartache. His soul complained. He lost everything in a single day. He cried for all his 10 children. Dead in a day. Dust and ashes. Sores and sadness. Seven days of silence.
And yet, Job lamented with hope. Through the eyes of faith, he saw the Lord usher in a “new day.” And his believer’s lament was transformed to a litany of praise: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the Earth!” (Job 19:25)
Our laments are also litanies. Our cries for help in this life are grounded in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which empowers us in faith because we have a promised, final reorientation to our heavenly home!
I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead; he lives my ever-living head. Amen.