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A Time to Lament

...before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:9-11
A Time to Lament Book Cover

grieving time

Grief is something none of us are immune to, though our culture encourages us to turn from it. We can often lean toward a fantasy world of our own making, believing we are immune to pain, but grief does not conform to our rules, no matter how much we bend our spirits or try to demand it.

Lament is part of the human life and directly tied to the healing of our souls. Why? Because lament is truth-telling. It is only through the telling of truth that wrongs can be brought to light.

why are we afraid to grieve?

Truth-telling is scary because when wrong is named it demands both responsibility and action. It’s easier to give trite answers like “God never gives us more than we can handle” than deal with our own responsibility. What is truly needed in that moment is not a catchy meme or anecdote. What is needed is companionship and acknowledgement.

Lamenting often begins in solitude but should not remain there. As we studied earlier in the week, the body of Christ is called to unity, to rejoice when others rejoice and to weep when others weep. Elijah found himself in great despair when he was running for his life.

Instead of admonishing him for his anguish, God provided for his immediate needs and reminded him that there were others just like him. Elijah was never alone. Even when we feel alone, we are not. When we enter the grief of our loved ones, we are choosing to minister to them in the same way that God ministered to Elijah (1 Kings 19).

While truth is often hard to hear, it is necessary. It requires time and effort. It is a gift of generosity to let down our own defenses and really hear the other person. Until we are willing to enter into grief over racism, classism, sexism, and everything else that divides us this side of heaven, we will not heal.

beauty in lament

Lamenting is biblical. There is precedence for it in Scripture. Portions of the prophets, the book of Job, and over a third of the psalms are laments. We live in a fallen world where pain and injustice happen. You and I are no more immune from tragedy then the men and women who share their stories with us throughout Scripture.

Lament gives our souls the ability to protest events that go against the goodness of God’s creation. It is only in the naming of what is wrong that we can begin healing. There is a season for everything. Lament acknowledges that today is a day to grieve what is broken. It allows us to begin the work toward restoration of God’s good creation. Entering into the weeping of our brothers and sisters is a tangible way to love one another as Christ commanded.

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Daily Question

Is there something you heard recently that put your defenses up? Why was that? Did the person claim to be telling the truth from a personal or systematic hurt? Revisit the conversation and ask God to give you clarity of mind as you listen. This time listen, not in defense, but with compassion. Lean in to her story and see if there is, in fact, a wrong that must be righted.

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