The Gift of the Lament

Tonight one neuron collided with another in my brain opening up a couple of old wounds plus one or two new ones all clamouring for attention. Thankful for an empty house, I put my current favourite lament song on repeat and took some time to grieve.

As a Mercy-oriented person, worship is one place where I am free to fully unpack all of the feelings I haven’t had time to deal with and bring them to my Father in their raw, unfiltered glory. In coming undone before Him, He somehow brings all the pieces together to form a new composition.

I wonder why modern worship music shies away from laments.

I understand the desire to express the joy and the freedom and the wonder that can only be found in Christ. I also understand the desire to cultivate a culture of joy that is so alien from the failed happiness culture of the world, I really do.

However I feel like we sell ourselves short as human beings when we create a space where the only appropriate emotions to bring to the Father are those on the warm end of the spectrum.

During a conference a couple of years ago, I was grieving hard. I poured my heart out to God in worship and words, grateful for the space and the freedom to do so without anyone asking me what was wrong.

I simply needed to bring those feelings and release them to God, letting Him acknowledge them (and me) in the middle of the mess.

Ironically, the meeting leader saw that the Holy Spirit was doing something, handed me the mic, and asked me to sing over the people present. I felt like I had nothing to contribute. Out of honour and respect for the leader, I wiped the tears and snot off my face and sang something about God breathing life into dry bones.

Holy Spirit took my meagre offering and turned it into a song of hope.

A number of people told me afterwards that those words had impacted them deeply. I wonder if they realised that they had come from a place of pain rather than victory? Don’t get me wrong, those words were filled with faith: not the joyful expectancy type of faith, or even the shallow-level, denial-of-reality type of faith.

Those words were filled with the certainty that God hears, God knows, and God cares about what’s happening and that He’s not intimidated by my lack of certainty, understanding, or wholeness. Even the most empathetic person reaches a point where they fail to know what to do, what to say, how to hold another person’s pain; but not God.

I find immense comfort in that.

Faith doesn’t run away from God for too long when trouble hits and hurt explodes. Whether it takes hours or years, Faith brings all of those bloody, lacerated, screaming pieces to God knowing that each one matters to Him. Every single one. No matter whose fault it was, He is merciful and compassionate in equal measure. Faith wrestles it out with God instead of hiding from Him (and it’s not afraid of losing).

 

My doubts, my uncertainty, my questions do not unsettle Him even when they would cause others concern*. Sometimes He rushes in to heal. At other times He sits with me, letting me know that He feels it too. He offers me the dignity of pouring it all out without interrupting or imposing meaning upon it too soon (if at all).

This isn’t the left-brain mere acknowledgement of data. It’s the Author of Life poring over every single splintered shard. He doesn’t look with a critical eye but with pure love, seeing each one for all it really is, infusing it with that love no faster than the snail pace I can just about bear.

This is no race and I offer no real competition.

Whatever I feel or throw at Him, He has felt it already: at greater depths and for far longer than I can fathom. Disappointment, misunderstanding, despair… He’s endured it all and I can take refuge in that kind of relentless endurance.

But that endurance hasn’t hardened Him- no! He still dreams. He still chooses to love. He demonstrated that love once for all when His love met the requirements of His justice on the cross. He still insists on demonstrating it in profound, sublime, and ridiculous ways daily.

Oh, my dear friend, that you would have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to grab hold of His love in the middle of your lament!

*I don’t doubt God’s goodness or His love for a second. I trust His motives. His methods sometimes confuse me.

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