Lament

No one likes to be sad. Mourning and weeping and wailing are quite out of line in our modern pursuit of happiness.

But the Bible knows better and so should we. There are many true and beautiful things upon which we may cast our minds (Phil. 4:8), but there are also many hateful and destructive things which we may not ignore. 

In light of our land’s highest court rejecting God’s Word and image outright, I have a confession to make: my greatest discouragement currently is not the state of our culture or nation, but it is the happiness of the church. So many blogs and emails from people I respect are looking for the silver lining in this cloud, the bright side of a dark day. I find myself tempted toward the same thoughts:

“Now the church can get on with being the church. Now nominal Christianity will be lose its grip on America.”

“The church has always done better, been more faithful to Jesus, when we’re the minority. Persecution can only help us.”

Perhaps. In fact, we should even pray this way.

But can we just take a moment for lament? Or a few moments? (James 4:9)

Rather than immediately looking for the bright side or plotting our next move in these culture wars, God’s Word would lead us back into the presence of God to simply mourn.

Those of you who are familiar with the Psalms ought to be good at this. Psalms of lament comprise, arguably, the largest single category of songs in the Psalter. This isn’t a mistake. God’s people have, by and large, lived through dark days and needed songs to sing that expressed their heavy hearts to a good God.

As those songs reflect the heart and mind of our Savior, we’re reminded that Jesus himself is the man of sorrows. He was not afraid to weep at his friend’s death (Jn. 11:35), or to lament over his beloved city (Mt. 23:37). He did not hesitate to encourage his followers to times of mourning and weeping (Lk. 23:27). He understood and showed us that the path to hope is paved with many tears and lamentations.

And so it seems to me that those Christians and churches desiring to have a Biblical and loving response to our nation’s rebellion ought to start here, with a season of lament. With times of prayer that bring our sadness, grief and repentance into the presence of God, who is the only source of comfort and hope.

We ought to lament our Supreme Court’s decision, and the many, many smaller rebellions that came before it. We ought to lament the church’s complicity in those rebellions. We ought to lament how our beautiful and glorious and loving Savior is being either twisted into something palatable or simply dismissed ate  or We ought to weep for the lives of people made in the image of God who are being taught to define themselves by urges rather than their Creator.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

2 Comments

  1. Shawn July 8, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Yes! Why is lamenting so uncomfortable for the Church? It could be that we are always looking for a silver lining or we want to pursue happiness. These are always present options instead of lamenting. But as we have been studying the topic of lament in our congregation, it has come up that we don’t lament because it sounds like unbelief at times.

    And yet, as you say, the Psalms are filled with lament; even our Savior’s lament.

    So lament. Complain to God that things are terrible. In faith, seek understanding in the midst of sin and misery.

    And note that all good laments either begin or end on the silver lining – not answering WHY but answering WHO. All Biblical melodies of lament find their refrain in the character and work of our God. We will often not know “WHY, GOD?” but we will still know WHO is the one who can bring redemption, restoration, condemnation, in a word, salvation.

    Thanks for the honest call to lament.

    • Phil Pockras July 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

      Well said, both Jared and Shawn. I’ll only add that it’s really silly to pray for persecution, and quite against Jesus’ very own teaching on how to pray. He told us to pray, among other things, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Since He says this, why do we pray for more temptation to apostasy and for handing over to evil?

      Lamentation and praying as Jesus Himself taught us, especially using the Psalms, are some immediate means by which we shall be delivered and by which Prince Messiah shall be exalted.

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