We’ve been experiencing a long, harsh winter season here in Nebraska. We were already setting all kinds of records for coldness, snowiness and grumpiness, when a catastrophic blizzard and flooding event took place last week. It seems fitting in light of the heaviness of this winter season, to look at how we grow in times of lament.
Lament is “feeling or expressing sorrow or grief.”
In Scripture, we see people falling before God, sitting in ash heaps, mourning, wailing. That’s a very Eastern response to sorrow.
We Midwesterners have our own way of expressing sorrow . . . we don’t.
I think that’s called Repression.
We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, soldier forward, press on.
Lament takes a back seat. I come from good German stock, so that’s my default drive too.
If you’re like me, you may have taken in a lot of sorrow over the past week, or months or years. You might be wondering if the long, cold winter of the body, soul and spirit will ever end. I don’t know, but I do know that God has given us a model for expressing sorrow.
Here’s what it looks like in one particular Psalm.
- Crying out. Honest questions and sorrow of the soul.
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?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
- Asking. In humility of spirit we ask for guidance or beg for rescue. Other times we might ask for strength to endure. It’s always seeking something from God that we can’t supply ourselves.
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
- Remembering. Regardless of what’s going on now, we choose to remember what God has done in the past. This is different from wrapping up a hard situation with a happy bow. It acknowledges the difficulty AND God’s trustworthiness.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
I wonder where you find yourself today. Can you identify the portion of lament that most resonates with your situation?
Crying out: are there sorrows left unspoken that you need to release?
Asking: are there questions hidden among your hurts that demand answers?
Remembering: is there goodness in your story that stirs your trust in Almighty God?
Might I encourage you to take some time in a quiet place to respond to God from your heart. Let go of your bootstraps and bow before Him . . .