Sharing a bit of encouragement and inspiration outside of our regular Sunday Services.
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Freedom to Lament
by Kyle Veer
Life has its ups and downs. Exciting and joyful times, all the way to tragic and painful loss, and everything in between. We all experience it, each of us at different times. We know of God’s promise in Revelation that our ultimate eternal future will have no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. But we also know that while that heavenly life awaits us, we will have to endure sorrow, trials, and hardships here in this life.
Many of us struggle when we’re in a low point. It can be difficult to communicate with others, to feel understood, to let it out. Why is that? It seems to me, this is common in our culture. We don’t do pain well. We just want it to be over. We cover it up, trying to make ourselves feel better by pretending, or by filling our lives with some kind of pleasure. We don’t like to deal with grief, we like to get away from it.
But it doesn’t ultimately deal with the problem. We need to have the freedom to express our pain and sorrow. We need to be heard. We need to heal. It may be somewhat counter-cultural, so it may feel unnatural or difficult to take those steps. But there is some motivation that can help.
The book of Psalms in Scripture is a perfect example for us - a collection of songs, hymns, or worship writings that express a person’s (or group of people’s) emotional response and communication to God through personal circumstances. The commonly known ones, like Psalm 23, are full of Praise and Thanksgiving. But they aren’t all like that. Some of them are raw and real with anguish, sorrow, and pain. Those Psalms are referred to as Laments (for example Psalm 13 or 102). Out of the 150 Psalms, almost 70 (just under 45%) are Laments. What does that tell us? That scripture confirms our common experience of pain, and encourages us to express it rather than ignore it.
Lament is an active word. It means to mourn deeply, or to express sorrow or regret. It is deeply therapeutic and healthy to do this. Scripture invites us to express our sorrow directly to God. The God of the universe inclines His ear to hear your struggles. We are also encouraged in other places in Scripture to lean not only on the Lord, but also one another. We should find people that we can open up to. People who can hear us. People who allow us to let it out.
So there is a responsibility for us to step out and share our pain. But there is also a responsibility on the ones who listen. Just as the Lord hears and doesn’t reject, we need to be loving and caring in our response when listening to people in pain. We need to allow them to be heard. We need to help them heal, or direct them to God who heals. We aren’t perfect, we won’t always say the right thing, and there needs to be grace both ways, but we should err on the side of compassion and understanding, walking along side one another in the valleys of life.