Leaning into Lament in Acknowledgement of Pain
It’s Holy Week and the heaviness felt around the world weighs even more as we reflect on the suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. Collectively, it feels like the world is groaning under the weight of it all.
In the heaviness, I’ve found solace in acknowledging that it is okay to groan to God about the pain and suffering taking place through the practice of lament.
What it Means to Lean into Lament
Lament, as defined by the dictionary, is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” The practice of lament invites God to meet us amid the burdens we bear.
Lament has served as an opportunity for me to deepen my faith and relationship with our Heavenly Father by inviting Him into every aspect of my life.
Too often, I falsely believe that God only wants to be brought into the “highlight reel” of life. But God longs to be in relationship, and being in relationship means we bringing everything to Him.
Being open and honest about our feelings allows our trust and belief in God to grow.
Consider your closest relationship. Maybe it’s a spouse, sibling, family member, or friend. When you are struggling, what do you share with them? Do you withhold your emotions or do you openly express your deepest fears and concerns? I try to keep this frame of mind as I practice lament.
Fear, doubt, disbelief, uncertainty—God is willing to embrace us no matter what. Lament is the opportunity to turn toward a loving God as our fully human selves as we express our innermost thoughts and feelings.
My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.Psalm 88:9 NIV
Throughout the Psalms, we are given beautiful examples of lament and are shown that God can handle whatever comes His way.
I currently have the opportunity to read an advanced copy of This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers (currently available to preorder). In it, the author shares these beautiful words:
“Just as the example of the psalmists demonstrates, God invites us to acknowledge the true state of our souls. Turning toward our pain and crying out to ask God to turn toward it as well creates a space of grace where the echoes of redemptive history become personal and present sounds of comfort. In dependence, we learn how to trust. In trust, we learn to keep trusting (This Too Shall Last, Chapter 4: Present to Pain, Receptive to Grace p. 90).”
At the outset of the year, I made it a regular rhythm to read the Psalms. While I’ve always found the Psalms to be beautiful, poetic expressions of faith, the raw emotion and bearing of souls has been especially relatable in such a time as this.
Full of petitions, honest accounts of fear and frustration, thanksgiving and praise, frustration and anguish, the Psalms beautifully reveal that there is nothing God can’t handle.
The practice of lament helps us to grow in relationship with God as we bare our souls and trust that He will provide.
Two Ways to Practice Lament
One way I’ve begun to practice lament is to handwrite my prayers. I find that writing longhand has helped keep my easily distracted mind focused as I connect with God and reveal whatever is on my heart.
“Praying the psalms teaches us how to protect, be shattered, and praise in the midst of pain.”This Too Shall Last Chapter 4: Present to Pain, Receptive to Grace p. 83
The second way I’ve begun to practice lament is through writing the Psalms. When words don’t come easily, I simply borrow words that have stood the test of time. A few I have found helpful:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.Psalm 42:5 ESV
Lament is a practice we can turn to as we acknowledge the heaviness we bear. It is a practice that allows us to share our struggles with a God who invites us to trust Him with it all. As your heart grieves, I invite you to lean into lament.