HOW TO HAVE HOPE IN THE MIDST OF HEARTBREAK by Chris Thomas for Core Christianity
O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise? I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
This is a Psalm of ‘Lament’. Lament is different to sorrow. ‘Sadness’ in the Bible is usually linked to circumstantial factors, but ‘lament’ is the language of sorrow that is deeply personal. Listen to the language of sorrow, recorded in the book of Lamentations, as Jerusalem laments her downfall.
How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she who was great among the nations!
She who was a princess among the provinces
has become a slave. She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
she has none to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
they have become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations,
but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.
Have you been there? In that lonely room during the dark night of the soul? In a world that worships the “feel good pick-me-up”, Christians have bought into the lie of profit-driven posters and bumper-stickers — on none of which will you ever read about ‘bitter tears in the night’ or ‘weary moaning’.
But if you have lived any portion of life, you know the sorrow that leads to lament, even though you may not have had the language to express it. When you fall into that dark pit of despair, when your sin has piled up against you, when God seems distant, or worse—close but quiet—no amount of chanting ‘Jeremiah 29:11’ as though it were some secret spiritual mantra will deliver you.