Lament is a funny thing in the Christian community. We spend a lot of time working our brains and posturing our spirituality for God and others. THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH! It isn’t out of insincerity or ego that we put on joy in all circumstances, but we are commanded to do so. It is good to be joyful - unless our corporate joy becomes a way to hide our fear, sorrow, doubt and pain, leaving half of ourselves to work out ashamedly and alone.
Friend, God has invited us into an intimate relationship - one where we can come before Him honesty and whole. He is the place for our joy and sorrow to meet. He has even given us tools to help - the Church and the Psalms to name a few.
The Psalmist cries “God, God…my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.’ The Message Psalm 22:1
“Vindicate me, Of God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man, deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?” ESV Psalm 43:1
“Oh Lord, How Majestic is your Name!” Psalm 8
“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity…” Psalm 103:1-3
We have been given the Psalms as an example of how to exercise our lament through the lens of faith. Through the eyes of faith, our tears can be an offering of our highest praise! The Psalms give the believers a playbook, if you will, with testimonies, promises, commands, and prayers to help us direct our emotion to, for, and about God. We have hope seeing that we can call out to God from anywhere.
We have been given the Church. Our local congregations must be a place where we live out our walks in community - authentic community. Can you say that your walk is one of success, prosperity, and fruitfulness all the time? I can not and surely I’m not the only one. The Christian life is one of suffering. If it wasn’t, Jesus wouldn’t have equated it to the cross and laying down our lives. We have to walk with each other through the good, bad and the ugly. Not only in our small groups, but in the Sanctuary.
To speak frankly, most weeks I’m pretty much a mess, floundering as I walk the narrow path, doubtful that the Lord could love me when He allows such hurt to come my way and yet come Sunday morning my worship turns into a place to cover all that up - it shouldn't be that way. I’ve learned that when we confront how hard it is, are honest with our brothers and sisters in Christ on how bad we are doing, we grow and we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our heart and lives instead of stifling Him.
Col. 3:16 says ‘Sing Psalms and let the word of Christ dwell in you.’ It is easy for us as musicians and lovers of music to know that the songs we sing shape our hearts. They give a path to a deeper place in our soul. Including the Psalms and songs of lament in our corporate worship can provide a way for us to feel more deeply and to speak more honestly with God and each other. Together as a body, we will be drawn out of hiding away from the comfort we cling to and closer to our Father who pursues us. Sanctification through song! If you are leading in a church, consider this encouragement that the entirety of scripture can/should inform our worship practices and let God ordain His praise out of our frailty and His victory.
Christian, don’t be uncomfortable with grief. As we come to the cross this week, be confident that life comes only from death; sorrow gives way to joy, and healing relief from pain and that even Christ himself calls out to the Father ‘Why? Oh why have you forsaken me.” Matthew 27:46