A battle cry to God that voices a heart of desire and ironic faith in His goodness….
I am convicted of my misunderstanding of the value in private and public lament, and in my limited scope I often fail to understand true surrender. Driven by pursuit for harmony, I find I am restricted in my ability to accept or deal with the pain that inevitably arrives in life. This warped philosophy often encourages me not to dwell on pain, or the doubt and questioning it often brings. Yet Biblically, lament has always been a valid part of the Christian life. Why do I fear somber moments and hold little confidence in sorrow? Why do I fear lament and sometimes believe the lie that lamenting will quickly morph into doubt and despair; failing to recognize doubt and despair are often the ground necessary to grow in confidence and joy. I propose surrender-the turning of my heart over to God, thanking Him for mercy, and receiving His terms for renewal, is impossible without battle. Is it inconceivable to surrender to God unless there is a prior, declared war against him? God lovingly reminds me sanctification is a lifetime process and He reveals my delusional thinking when I assume that my internal conflict with Him was finished at the time of conversion. Consistent surrendering uncovers and dissolves my burning concern with the self. While the battle for my soul was a definite victory at the point of my conversion, it is hardly the last fight. If I desire to invite a lost culture, that experiences a life that is neither easy, nor good, to consider the gospel, then I must learn to sing melodies that face life with both honesty and hope.
When I reflect on times of lament, I recognize moments when I have vocalized anguish, anger, and confusion. But I question if those moments were categorized as a deep yearning to ask, seek and desire to comprehend the heart of God. Have I allowed the lamenting process to be a time of vigor search and hunger to pursue truth, rather than to rant and rave with already finalized assumptions? I am learning I can lament, with a dialect of pain, anger, and confusion while still moving toward God, and that lament is as far from complaining or grumbling as a search is from purposeless wandering. A lament is the drive to move toward the darkness of heart-rending sorrow that does not make sense and even worse seems to be a contradiction of God’s love for us. My heart is moved by seemingly meaningless pain that can either lead to the hardness of sentimental faithfulness and condescending disbelief, or compelled to search and comprehend the heart of a God who sent his son to die for me. Lament cuts through artificiality, shreds pretense, and exposes the rawness of trust that angrily approaches the throne of grace and kneels in reverential, vigorous wonder. Lament softens my hardness of false piety or haughty unbelief, intensifies my search, and puts me before the face of Jesus.
To enter the language of lament, I look to the psalms. Many psalms reflect the struggle of the people of God to comprehend the devastations of their lives in light of God’s promise to protect and sustain. The patterns of the Psalms teach a pattern for life. We turn and return to praise, and lament is an essential part of that process. To sob with God over the broken state of our world is to join Him in His Holy mourning. Bringing that pain to God is to allow Him to offer us the other side of the picture –the hope of Christ – the peace that can be carried together with lament. The lament psalms themselves are a confirmation of this, because what else is lament, if not another form of praise to a God who hears us and is in control?
I encourage you to listen for lament-find a place to sing with one another the songs of sorrow. Pray the psalms-line by line until you join the multitude that wrestles with God and receives the blessing of his daughter or son. Then your heart will not be as afraid of lament, nor your soul so cautious to live the contradiction of sorrow and joy. Then may we not only learn to sing of sorrow with a new passion, but live lament until it breaks loose into the liberty of joy.