It’s been a year under the shadow of this virus, masks, restrictions, and not feeling free to operate as a church in the ways we would desire.
A year where my kids weren’t as plugged into church as they usually would have been. I worry about the spiritual impact on them and other kids and students in my area.
A year of racial and political tensions and violence in our country.
It has been a hard year.
What do we do with all this on-going disappointment, frustration, and sadness?
I have a thought.
The Gift of Lament
God has given us an incredible gift that we often ignore. Lament.
In his sovereignty, God included in the Bible prayers, songs, and poems that essentially say to God, “I’m not okay with this and we need to talk!”
Recently, I’ve been studying Psalm 10, where the psalmist describes people who care nothing for God and yet prosper.
Worse, he describes the way this person is prospering: through oppression and injustice.
With this in mind, the psalm writer asks,
Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
My translation: God, why aren’t you doing something about this?
I’m bringing this up because I think we need to lament, especially during a season like this.
Overall, I think our culture is pretty unhealthy when it comes to processing the pain and disappointment of life.
This week I ran across these words from J.D. Walt,
Consider this: a full one-third of all of the Psalms (by my count, fifty-eight) are songs of lament. It strikes me that we should assume that about one-third of our life is going to be a disappointing mess that many times cannot be resolved, only lamented.
There are seasons of life that clichés can’t resolve.
There are seasons of life that encouraging notes and a hug can’t resolve.
There are seasons of life that our favorite worship songs can’t resolve.
Sometimes life makes no sense.
This is why God gifted us with lament.
More from J.D. Walt,
I am becoming convinced that depression is so rampant precisely because lament is so repressed. Think about it. Years and years of life’s ordinary disappointments, wounds, broken relationships, lost opportunities, sinful mistakes, grievous losses, deaths, and on we could go—unlamented, held inside, slowly repressed, and exiled to the Siberian wasteland of our souls. It’s enough to permanently alter a person’s internal brain chemistry. This is what causes so much depression.
It’s psychologically and emotionally damaging to avoid and repress lament.
We will be less effective as parents, pastors, leaders, and friends if we neglect to lament.
We are so prone to avoiding pain by staying busy, numbing, or pretending. It doesn’t work.
I wonder if you need to lament?
I wonder if you need to turn Godward and express your disappointment, frustration, and pain to God?
What needs to be lamented in your life?
Possibly one of the most important things for you to do as a leader in the coming days is to lament.
Your church needs a healthy you!
I encourage you to turn Godward, express your frustration, ask for God to move, and if you are able, express your trust in the midst of the mess.
This process won’t fix your situation, but it could guide your heart toward health.
I wonder if you need to invite your congregation to lament?
Perhaps it’s time for a sermon or a sermon series on lament?
My friends in the mental health field have described an overwhelming workload right now.
People are struggling to process all the disappointment of this season.
I think we have some things to learn from the ancient Hebrews and how they expressed their pain.
Perhaps this is a season to lament and teach our congregations to lament.
It could be the healthiest steps we take in the coming weeks.