The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. – William Shakespeare, King Lear
This blog has been a place of processing, learning and growing through the hardships and trials of the last two years. And two weeks ago, I shared that I was in a new place – a better one – even if my footing still felt a little fragile. So when Tyndale House Publishers graciously provided me a copy of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament by Aubrey Sampson, it piqued my interest. But my honest thought was that I didn’t really need this as my disposition toward God and my family’s situation was improved. But I was wrong. I needed the truths of this book. And if you don’t currently need this message, at some point you will.
I now agree with the author 100% when she wrote, “In my youthful naivete’ I believed that hardships were supposed to be the exception to life, not the rule. But suffering is not an exception, after all. It’s not a surprise. It’s not an interruption to an otherwise easy life. The older I get, the more I realize that no person is untouched by some level of pain and heartache, big or small.” I believe we, the global church, have a skewed idea of what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord always“. And because of it, we are uncomfortable with pain and grief – our own and that of other people. Laments are an overlooked form of prayer and worship. In studying the laments of the Bible (Job, David, Jeremiah and more), we learn that laments bridge the gap between “current hopelessness and coming hope”. There’s hope because “we don’t lament to a void. We lament to the God who wants our laments.”
What is lament? A pouring out of our hearts to God. It’s an invitation to stop pretending we don’t suffer, to stop avoiding our big feelings and let go of control. Most believers in Jesus Christ, and even some non-believers know that God is not an agent of pain, evil or death. But in this broken world, we need to be able to admit that it’s often hard to make sense of a God who is able to stop pain, evil or death and sometimes doesn’t. So how are these types of questions…the “why’s?”, the “how longs?”, the “where are you’s?” worship? Because we still take them to God. “Lament is the art of trusting God no matter what he gives, no matter what he takes.”
When we cry out to God, we trust Him with our feelings, even as we struggle to trust Him with the circumstance.
God is big enough to handle our doubts and frustrations. He isn’t one bit threatened. He created our finite minds, in fact. It’s true that He wants our worship, but not just for worship sake. He wants us to come to revere Him and honor Him because we know Him and His character. That takes experience with Him and it means relationship with Him. “If we never acknowledge our pain to God, we will never truly know what it means to praise him on the other side of suffering. It is in our honest crying out to God about our pain that our worship of God grows more authentic…Lament is part of the rhythm of a deepening relationship with him.”
True confession: When I read non-fiction books, I never read the questions in the back of the book that are sometimes included for groups. This subject matter was so interesting to me that I read and wrote out answers to every one. I found catharsis and incredible wisdom – even in the appendix. I am not overstating the importance of this book to say when I say that I feel much better equipped to handle my pain and the pain of others after spending time between these pages.
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