A Spirituality of Exile: Responding to God's Absence
- Volume 10
- Issue 1, Spring 2017
- A Spirituality of Exile: Responding to God's Absence
In the journey of faith almost everyone experiences times of spiritual desolation when our sense of God’s presence is stripped away and our certainty about his faithfulness is deeply eroded. Times like this are intensely disorienting as they leave us grasping for answers, but even more importantly searching for a way forward. The literature of the Bible provides us with both experiential companionship and language to guide our journey through the desolate places of spiritual experience. The prayer language of exile offers us a paradigm for engaging with God in the midst of our experience of his absence. In particular the biblical book of Lamentations and a number of Psalms (44, 74, 79, 89, 102, 106 and 137) provide language that helped Israel express the depths of their suffering in the face of their exilic experience. The prayer language of exile is the language of God’s absence. Through the language of exilic prayer we encounter the bold movements of lament, remembrance, reorientation, and hope. These acts of prayerful speech form the core of a spirituality of exile that sustained the ancient community and can offer nourishment to contemporary journeys of desolation as well.
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