Lament is an important – and beautiful – part of a life of faith. We often lean into joy when we come together to worship – because in Christ there is always lots to be joyful about; but in this world – and in the honesty of Christ – there is also a ton to be heartbroken over at the same time. In our own lives and in the lives of those around us.
Our sorrow can be as sacred as our joy. In fact in the Bible over 70% of the Psalms (ancient Israel’s hymnbook) contain some form of lament – a song or prayer that expresses grief, sadness, pain or frustration. Culturally we are very good at complaining – but lament is something different. It’s a channeling of those complaints into meaningful prayers that point our hearts towards the God who cares about our pain and struggles.
Biblical laments have a few common movements that we’re going to follow today.
Each one starts with an ADDRESS, declaring who we’re talking to. This isn’t random venting to empty air! We point our words and eyes towards the One we believe is present and listening. Every lament voices a COMPLAINT, describing with raw honesty the circumstances that are messing with the flow of joy and hope at the moment. There’s usually an expression of TRUST; the belief that God will not leave us here, in this, forever. And always, a PETITION – a specific asking of God to turn things around. In the end, they often conclude with PRAISE: a stubborn resolve to worship God anyway, no matter what happens.
So take a deep breath and join me as we lament together. Because life is hard, and God cares about our pain.