Over one-third of the book of Psalms are filled with psalms of lament, crying out to God to help us. In fact, the word lament connotes raw, honest emotion with no pretense and literally means “to tear the hair and beat the breast.” When you lament you let it all out; you wail from a deep, guttural place.
When I think of lament, I can’t help but think of the people who were the first lamenters, Adam and Eve. Imagine with me for a moment that you’re happy and free, living in a beautiful place with interesting creatures and foods, and each morning you wake up and discover something new. To top it off, you get to spend personal time with God who made you, who created you into existence with His very breath. Life is good.
But then one day, because of one choice, one decision made against what your Father had warned you about, your once innocent, shame-free eyes are opened, and nothing is the same. You and your husband lose everything you know.
Can you hear the wailing from outside the garden?
And just when you thought the awful beginning was over, just as you settled into a new way of life that involved the skin of dead animals, the pain of seeing your husband struggle, the ugliness of weeds surrounding you constantly, the agony of childbirth, the fear of what might hunt you in the middle of the night, your one son murders your other son, and in that act you lose both of them — one to death and one to banishment.
How could you, God? No more, no more! It’s too much, and I am overtaken.
Raw. Honest. Prayerful.
There is blessing in lament. Lament frees us to feel and process grief. It could be the grief from the death of a loved one, a baby gone to heaven too soon, the loss of a relationship or the loss of what we should have had from a mom or dad but didn’t get. Or it could be the loss of a dream or life not being what you thought it would be or the loss of something stolen from you, from your body and your soul through a violation.
Whatever it is, God calls us through the many examples of lament in the Scriptures to cry out to Him. He knows that when you cry out, you allow pain to do its work. Remember, God made tears and the ability to wail. Once the lament has worked all the way through, you will have some relief. You will have freedom. And you will even experience joy, even if some of your earthly needs go unmet.
The Scriptures tell us that godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10), that those who mourn will be blessed (Matthew 5:4), that God binds up our wounds and heals our broken hearts (Psalm 147:3), and that the pain won’t last forever. When godly sorrow has done its work as surrender to the Holy Spirit and follow onto that healing path, joy will come (Psalm 30:5).
God can handle your lament, your raw emotion, your fears and doubts and confusion and anger, depression, and plain old sadness. He is a God we can relate to, as He also has feelings and emotions, ones of sadness and anger, grief and lament. We are formed of His breath, and we breathe out the emotions He gave us to use and feel and process and pay attention to.
Lament is a gift. Allowing ourselves to vulnerably acknowledge and face the pain in our lives, big or small, sets us on the path of healing.
When we believe God, when we trust that He has our best interests in mind, that He wants to heal us and help us, guide us and deliver us, that He has redemption in store, we can have the confidence to cry out the stuff that’s under the surface or flailing on top of it screaming to be seen and heard.
That secret you have that you don’t think you can tell anyone about? You can. You can tell it to a safe person because you are safe in Christ and you cannot lose your identity in Him or your place as His beloved daughter.
That miscarriage you had that still locks you up inside, the one everyone thinks you should be over by now? Cry out. Cry out to the God who loves you so much and cries with you and holds your sorrows and keeps your tears in a bottle and records each day of sorrow in His book (Psalm 56:8). He sees you even when others don’t understand. Let Him be your comfort, and if you are willing, tell someone the truth about the lingering pain.
That depression you’re hiding, thinking it will get better? You can tell someone, and you can seek relief — it’s okay. God uses all sorts of ways to help our hearts and our minds and our bodies when they’re sick, whether physically or mentally or emotionally. Here, I’ll go first: I take anxiety medication. I am secure in God’s love for me and that He led me to get help. I praise Him for His gentle leading and kindness toward my fallen brain!
Or how about that affair you’re having or on the verge of having or the fact that you’re toeing the line and you know it, but you think you can handle it? CRY OUT. Cry out to God and be honest that it feels good but it’s so not okay. Cry out to a safe person, someone who will tell you the truth and love you through it all. Shoot, I’m going to go ahead and say, tell your husband! It’s not fun, but the freedom in a clear conscience before God and others is better than any consequence you can imagine.
I could list so many things, but you know your thing, I don’t have to tell you. It’s on the edge of your mind right now. And like I said, big or small, if it’s a thing, cry out and get it out. Don’t let it grow bitter or fester or find other ways of infiltrating your life that aren’t welcome.
And if you’re not sure what is keeping you from freedom, if you know something is going on because you’re so angry or (fill in the blank) but can’t pinpoint it, pray the following prayer and then just sit with it, be curious and alert to what God may be trying to show you, and wait:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)
He is a God we can relate to. -@sarahmae: Click To Tweet