Complaining, blaming, excusing, and shaming are different facial expressions on the same worried face. We’ve all heard (and done) our share recently.
It’s a face that denies the pain, the wound, the problem. And in denial keeps healing at bay as the wound gapes.
Lament is an entirely different facial expression. Singular and powerful. Lament communicates an honest, anguished heart cry against the wounds of injustice, fear, disease, and pain. It is different from complaint because it is honest and carries shadows of hope. But more than anything lament invites the Healer in. Lament says, “Please, come near. I need help.”
Lament is a crucial aspect of spiritual formation because it connects our hearts to God’s heart.
Lament also lets us know how we actually feel. It’s like telling the doctor where it hurts.
God believes lament is so useful and powerful he commissioned an entire book of the Bible filled with it. Not to mention the Psalms and Jeremiah! And God listens to it attentively. And God responds. Not with Band-aides and Aspirin. But with redemptive healing.
This is why The Neighborhood Church Littleton asked me to write a lament and read it during Sunday [Zoom] worship. Read it below. And though it was written as a cry in this time of pandemic, isolation, and uncertainty, may it also lend a voice this Memorial Day to all those who grieve and have lost loved ones who served in the U. S. Military.
HOW DESERTED LIES MY HEART
(A modern lament based on the opening line of Lamentations 1)
How deserted lies my heart,
Once so full of hope!
Then the locust swarmed
Devouring from inside
Quickly we masked the gates.
Our courts now
Children playing on
We peered out barred
At fearful devastation.
Heard locust rattle
Against locked doors.
How deserted lie our hearts.
We sang songs to
Muffle their gnawing,
We raised our voices
Still deserted lie our hearts.
We called to our allies.
Consulted our modern gods.
But they betrayed us.
More deserted lie our hearts.
Science steadfast sat
Unable to agree,
Politicians jockeyed for
Position and failed to reach the
Naked and ridiculous.
Religion recalcitrant to
Hands in retreat
These gods of
Our own making
Of our souls
“I need no
Virus to kill
Faith or hope.
Utterly devastated lie our hearts.
Let your tears flow.
“These gods we’ve built
Then rose a
By the wise,
It a child spied
“God is not
How comforted stands my heart!
Your turn: Write a lament for your own prayer life or one for the comments here.
6 thoughts on “Why A Cry of Lament Is Crucial for Your Healing”
I’m going to try to be very honest here,… part of my biggest frustrations in the “conditions” that surround me, at this point in time (where I am, personally, not particularly uncomfortable ~ at least “yet”, and “thanks be to God!” on that account!), but with all the thoughts, ideas, attitudes, theories, arguments, back-biting, lies, and contradictions, etc, that erupt around us these days, as if from a perpetually angry volcano, I am very disappointed in “the (so-called) human race”,…
and I’m disappointed that the voices that need to be “speaking to this (mess)”, aren’t,… it seems very obvious to me that there are “mind-sets and opinionated emotional/thought wavelengths” that have captivated people in such a way that anger and “self-righteousness”, which are underlaid by grotesque and distorted “pride”, have blinded huge numbers, in the ways you began by mentioning ~ “Complaining, blaming, excusing, and shaming” others,… what about themselves?,… this is the kind of “delusion (of grandeur?)” that leaves no door open for God, or room for Him, if He could enter,… deceitfulness and criminal lawlessness are being treated as if “normalizing” these behaviors is some kind of long-awaited blessing,… but ~ not!,…
one could say, “woe is me”, or “woe are we”,… but I feel more like saying, “Be still and know that I am God”,…
Well lamented, my friend. May God continue to comfort us.
I think making a distinction between complaint and lament as you have is key. We are told in Philippians to do all things without grumbling and complaining. The Israelites were punished for complaining and Moses told them that they were really grumbling against the Lord (Numbers 16:7,11; Exodus 6:7). Lament is directed towards God – we are being honest about how we feel. Ps. 68:2 encourages the readers to pour out their hearts before the Lord. Lament does give hope as it is directed to God – the only One who can help.
Thanks, Julie. Is complaining making noise without really wanting a response while lamenting is seeking God’s comfort in the pain?
Once a year I read Job, and I always stand amazed at what new insight I find. This year I learned that God doesn’t give answers ..He shows up Himself Job 38 – 41. .and He teaches Job firstly about His loving provision and in the second part His power. In Jer 15:19 God tells Jeremiah (in my own words) that He is not moved by self-pity..but by faith in God…How amazing that God Himself comes to my pity party and says ‘I am here..’ look up
Elna: I love that practice. Yes, you are right. God does not answer Job so much as be the answer. That is a hard truth for us, I think.