WE NEED TO LAMENT TO BEGIN HEALING by Mark Vroegop for Core Christianity
Lament enters the complicated space of deep disappointment and lingering hurt. It boldly reaffirms the trustworthiness of God. But first we need to learn how to lament. Let me briefly highlight four elements.
Confusion, exhaustion, and disappointment can cause us to retreat from the one who knows our sorrows. The poisonous mist of bitterness or anger can sweep in, creating a fog of unbelief or a justification for ungodly behavior. Lament talks to God even if it’s messy. This requires faith. Silence is easier but unhealthy. Lament prays through hardship. Consider the gut-level honesty of Psalm 77:
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. (vv. 1–3).
Even though hope feels distant, lamenters reach out to God. This historic prayer language invites us to keep crying out in prayer.
The second step in lament candidly talks to God about what is wrong. Biblical complaint vocalizes circumstances that do not seem to fit with God’s character or his purposes. While the psalmist knows God is in control, there are times when it feels like he’s not. When it seems that injustice rules the day, lament invites us to talk to God about it. Instead of stuffing our struggles, lament gives us permission to verbalize the tension. Psalm 13 wrestles with why God isn’t doing more:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (vv. 1–2)
Biblical complaining is not venting your sinful anger. It’s merely telling God about your struggles. And the more honest we can be, the sooner we are able to move to the next element.