Sunday, October 9, 2016

permission to lament

Years ago, they wore black for long periods of time to signify mourning.  How I wish there was an outward symbol now! That people would know a broken, grieving heart when they saw it.  

Can we do our best to encourage this honesty?  It's biblical to lament.  There are almost endless examples of this.  God can handle our honesty, our anger, our pain, our sorrow, our questions, our emotions.

I am worn out from all my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears. 
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
They fail because of all my foes. 
-Psalm 6:6-7 (NIV)

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.
            -Psalm 42 (ESV)


How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 
How long will you hide your face from me?  
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?

-Psalm 13:1-2 (NIV)


Can we give permission to lament, as some trusted friends have given us?
Their beautiful words:

"It seemed like all those sympathy cards had all of grief figured out. But my initial thoughts of you both was that you were departing into unknown place of grief... I would never want to brush off the deep grief you all are feeling with some sort of canned optimism... I am lamenting with you. I'm sorry that this is the pilgrimage thrust upon you. It is exceedingly difficult. My prayer as I approach Jesus with puzzled reverence is that he would redeem in the way that he does."
"Your pain and suffering are recognized and respected. Your pain and suffering are sanctifying.  Yet I know you'd forego this further sanctification to have your children back in a heartbeat."

"I have no answers. I weep with you. Thank you for your open, transparent heart. You are giving us the privilege of fulfilling the very law of Christ -- 'bear one another's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.' These burdens are too heavy to bear alone. You bore Winnie and Clive. Now we bear you. And we bear them with you in the name of Him who bore OUR griefs and carried our sorrows -- Jesus, the man of sorrows acquainted with the bitterest grief. We love you. HE loves you beyond knowing."

"I also pray that well meaning people will not try to cheer you up or try to pull you out of where you are--may you continue to grieve, as I believe it keeps us connected to heaven and our eyes set on our real home."

There are so many other words, too many to share.  Words of encouragement and hope. Reminders of journeying with us and praying for us.  Words of sorrow, and words saying that there are no words.  Thank you for acknowledging our sorrow and standing with us in this.
 
Lament is beautiful.  It's beautiful in its rawness, its honesty, its timelessness, its humanity.

Lament is exhausting.  We don't have a capacity to do this and only this.  So there may be times we look almost normal.  There are plenty of times our faces are not tear streaked, and we may even have smiles.  There is lots of busyness and filling of time with mindless things.  There is a time and place for both.

In lament, there is still hope.  Most of the Psalms that are laments end with a hope & trust in the Lord, despite a lack of understanding.




Lamenting Songs:













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