Hard road lamenting
A truth from God’s Word has so dramatically changed how I think and feel about God, when I experience a hard road in life, that I felt compelled to pass it on. Here it is: Whenever our road gets hard God invites us to cast our full emotions about it on Him in trusting lament. Lamenting is expressing grief, anger, or sorrow in trusting complaint to God.
The whole idea of lamenting was difficult for me because I was quite convinced that complaining to God about anything in my life was something “good” Christians should never do. The laments and the lamenters I found in the Bible changed my mind.
Consider that laments far outnumber any other kind of songs in the Psalms (40% are laments - e.g. Psalms: 3-7, 9-10, 17, 22, 25, 27, 28, 31, 38-43, 51-57, 71, 77, 139). Jeremiah, who faithfully shared God’s truth for 40 years to people who did not respond, or who responded by abusing him, offers six laments where he complains to God in strong language, protesting his innocence and crying out to God for vindication (Jer 11:18-23; 12:1-6; 15:10-21; 17:14-18; 18:18-23; 20:7-18). For these, and for his book called Lamentations, Jeremiah has been called the weeping prophet. The Bible book Ruth is the story of Naomi’s lament to God and how God responded. The Bible book of Job may also be considered an extended lament.
Lamenting is the way God invites us to cry to Him from the depths of whatever we’re feeling about whatever is not as we feel it should be on a hard road in life. The hard road might be health (physical and emotional; yours, or someone you love), grief(a person, or dream, dear to you has died), finances(you can’t remember the last time you had any margin in your finances), your marriage, a parenting or family issue, a challenge at work, general disappointment with someone or something in your life, or a conflict with a friend, co-worker, orfamily member.
So, how does a “good” Christian lament when life brings pain, disappointment, uncertainty, loss, injustice, or betrayal? Here’s the biblical pattern for lamenting I now try to follow:
1. I attempt to get in touch with the emotions an honest assessment of my current hard road generates. Then I:
2. Aim the expression of my lament at God, not at a person that I perceive to be the cause of my current hard road. Biblical lamenting lazar-beams our complaint, grief, and emotions toward God as our loving Father.
3. Describe what is upsetting me – the particular hard road I’m aware of right now.
4. Express my feelings in words to God(honestly and vulnerably). I find writing them out helps. (Note that our laments should not be concerned with keeping God or others from feeling uncomfortable or with aligning with expectations).
5. Tell my loving heavenly Father (my Abba/Daddy) what I’m asking Him to do for me.
6. Express my trust in my loving Father’s goodness, love and power. I tell Him I trust Him to work out my rescue/vindication in His way and time. (Note: in the Bible’s laments trust in God is almost always also expressed as part of the lament).
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7 ESV