Learning to Lament through the Pandemic

What is the definition of the word, lament? According to Christian writer, Sara Mae, lament is a “raw, honest emotion with no pretense and literally means “to tear the hair and beat the breast.” When you lament you let it all out; you wail from a deep, guttural place.” A contemporary view of a lament is an ardent expression of mourning, regret, frustration, grief or sorrow in the form of poems, songs or musical compositions. (https://www.incourage.me/2020/01/lament-gives-way-to-freedom.html; https://www.lexico.com/definition/lament).

     As Christians, we identify laments as biblical prayers that provide healthy ways to take our troublesome worries to God just as we are – spiritually over-whelmed. Laments include an aspect of worship and praise as we recognize our own inadequacy and God’s sovereignty. At the foot of the cross, we can share our deepest, ugliest and most hurtful feelings weighing down our very hearts and souls. For God does listens and responds according to His will, purpose and plan for our lives. The Book of Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 4, tells us, “Blessed are thosehttps://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A4&version=ESV who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (https://www.guideposts.org/faith-and-prayer/prayer-stories/power-of-prayer/learn-to-lament; (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A4&version=ESV ). 
     The Books of Psalms and Lamentations provide awesome examples of God’s people from all stages and ages who desperately cried out to Him during their times of soul-draining perils and distress. Believe me, the likes of Joshua, Naomi, King David, Elijah, Job, Jeremiah and a host of other saints found lamenting soul-soothing and restoring. These folks wailed and questioned God yet they moved through their sorrows and struggles under God’s watchful gaze. From my perspective, lamenting allows people to express and release their fears and soul pain in a constructive manner without fear of retaliation or judgment. If done purposefully, I believe laments draws us nearer to God and allows others to bear witness to our faith and trust in God’s sovereignty and care of us. The Book of Psalms, Chapter 34, Verse 18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+34%3A18&version=ESV).
     Pastor Mark Vroegop shared that lamenting is “a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of renewing our confidence in God.” Laments typically contain these elements (1) turning to God for answers, (2) bringing to God our complaints or questions, (3) asking earnestly for God’s response and relief and (4) having trust and faith in God to care. (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god).
What is this Period of Lament our World is Collectively Experiencing?
     Today, all of humanity is experiencing a time of global lament where nations and peoples are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences and fallouts in some manner. Globally, there is disease, disability and death impacting day-to-day aspects of living, working, loving and socializing.
     From my perspective, here’s how lamenting reduces our stress. When we’re spiritually exhausted, we want someone, somebody to validate and recognize our personhood – to “spiritually see us” and “to understand our gut-wrenching sorrow”. We need the heaven-sent Christ who’s full of compassion and wisdom to relieve our hurts. It is during this period of burdensome weeping that we must cling ever tighter to our faith. It is here where our hope and faith in God intersects with our ability to overcome or adjust using God’s strength and blessings!
     During this time of lamentation, we’re learning to pivot and adapt to NEW routines, lifestyles and relational dynamics. Perhaps for some, we’ve already “lamented” through our woes and can share our good news with others.  Next week, let’s talk about the different strategies found to be helpful as we purposefully learn to lament through our cares and woes.

My Prayer:  Abba Father, thank you for being our provider (Jehovah Jireh), the Lord who heals us (Jehovah Rapha) and the God who restores our peace (Jehovah Shalom). Without your blessing of revelation of your nature and character, we would not know the Perfect Shepherd who leads, guides and saves us. To you God we give our faith and obedience through our period of lament. Amen!