I held my husband’s hand as we walked to our church across the street. There was a break in the thunderstorm that had been threatening all day and was now finally keeping its promise to bring deluges of rain that are part of the life of spring/summer weather in the south.
Thick humidity hung in the air. As we glanced down the street for cars to see if we could cross, I noticed our neighbors were out on their covered front porch enjoying the first storm of the season. It’s the first I had seen of the wife who recently gave birth to she and her husbands’ first baby. This baby girl was perfect in every way.
I noted to my husband that they were probably enjoying experiencing their baby’s first thunderstorm. His response quickened my heart.
You see, we were on our way to a memorial service and my husband said, “Isn’t it interesting? A few doors down there is new life and we are going celebrate someone who’s life on this earth has ended.”
These moments are the ones that bring into focus the brevity of life, the preciousness of life and the continual forward motion of life. You can’t stop it. You can’t slow it down and it’s in these moments that our hearts are painfully aware of the inevitability of death. We find ourselves wondering who will be next? It’s not always a surprise, but often it is and we hope and pray it’s no one close to us, at least not too soon. We KNOW that ultimately it will be.
It was standing room only at this memorial service and as Scripture was spoken and songs were sung, I could hear the roar of thunder outside while the next phase of the storm moved in. I heard sirens in the distance and wondered if anyone else had lost a loved one today.
As we were assured by the Bible reading that as Believers, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11), we were also painfully aware of the “not yet” part. The part where we live right here and right now.
We were also reminded in 2 Corin. 4:16-18:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
How does that look in our day to day? How do we grieve for those things that are not as we know deep down, they should be?
God’s original creation plan didn’t involve death or pain or sickness or suffering and yet we live in a world that is wrought with exactly that. How do we reconcile the eternal with all that we are feeling and experiencing right now?
Lament is very much a part of the Hebrew culture and many other cultures as well and somewhere along the way (especially in our American culture) it became shameful to mourn and to grieve that which has been lost. And yet, we still experience loss on many different levels and the only authentic, honest to deal with it is to allow ourselves to be sad…to lament.
What exactly IS lament?
“Lament is a tool that God’s people use to navigate pain and suffering. Lament is vital prayer for the people of God because it enables them to petition for God to help deliver from distress, suffering, and pain. Lament prayer is designed to persuade God to act on the sufferer’s behalf.”(a)
There is a biblical way to lament and these examples can be found throughout the Psalms.
Biblical lamenting allows us to ask God the hard questions, like “Why?!”. It allows us to express our full gamut of emotions but ultimately never loses sight of God.
I have struggled with feeling like it’s somehow disrespectful or faithless to give full vent before God, but then I am reminded that He KNOWS all and sees all and is already fully aware of what I’m feeling. So why try to hide it from Him? We can see throughout the Psalms that the writers held nothing back. I believe God wants us to do the same.
For five days last week I led an online Bible study for moms, going through 5 of my favorite Psalms. I had no idea when I started the week how very much I would need this. There was laughter and there were tears as this group of women and myself journeyed through Psalm 1, 23, 37, 46, and 27.
Throughout the week, we continually saw how not only fully able, but how very willing God is to act on our behalf…to protect and provide and to fight for us. This is the relationship He desires with us. He holds nothing back. We hold nothing back.
The words from the memorial service ring in my heart:
“No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?”(b)
What are you grieving today? A loss of:
loss of a loved one
loss of a season of life
loss of health
Don’t be afraid to weep over these losses. Let your worship become deeper than ever before as you have the courage to bring sorrow into it and experience more fully, the redemptive work of Christ.