Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Lord Loves Lament

One of the most interesting lessons I have learnt in my 5+ years of infertility was about lament. Up until I experienced the sorrow of infertility, lament had been something I had not really paid much attention to. I thought that David in the psalms was a bit of a moaner and I had never really opened the book of Lamentations. But when I discovered lament, I found a whole new way to worship God and exercise my faith.

So what is lament? In simplicity it is a prayer to God for help and it comes out of a place of intense pain and suffering.  In my opinion it seems to be a forgotten form of worship, with Christians often believing that by acknowledging pain and hurt they are somehow being a bad Christian. However lament has a string biblical presence. Over 1/3 of the psalms are psalm of lament, many of the prophets lamented, (especially Jeremiah) and Job lamented over his situation. There is even a book of lament aptly named Lamentations. Interestingly Jesus too had moments of lament, particularly in difficult times like in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭26:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

I discovered lament for myself when I was in a dark place. As I searched the scriptures for someone I related to I came across Hannah and how she ‘poured out her soul to the Lord’ (see 1 Samuel1:1-20.)As I read of her I was reminded of somebody else who regularly poured their heart out to the Lord – David. As I started to digest the psalms I suddenly realised that the man I once thought was just a moaner, was in fact voicing the cries of my heart.  

“God, I’m crying out to you! I lift up my voice boldly to beg for your mercy. I spill out my heart to you and tell you all my troubles. For when I was desperate, overwhelmed, and about to give up, you were the only one there to help. You gave me a way of escape from the hidden traps of my enemies. I look to my left and right to see if there is anyone who will help, but there’s no one who takes notice of me. I have no hope of escape, and no one cares whether I live or die.”

As I started to explore lament in the scripture I started to discover more and more about who God is and what my faith, in the midst of a terrible situation, should look like. I came across one lament that I found powerful and whenever my heart begins to feel overwhelmed, I again ponder and on these verses in Habakuk. 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬

The biggest revelation about lament for me is that it requires faith. To see the pain and sorrow around us and declare ‘it is well with my soul.’ Takes faith even if you feel like your faith is far smaller than a mustard seed, and is a true act of worship. 

Writing this post on lament seems even more profound as the past couple of weeks have been tough. In my personal life and in the church I minister at we have been battling with sorrow, grief and loss. Today I will declare

‘Yet I will still rejoice in the Lord’