Trust is one of those things that’s hard to describe and even more difficult to practice. But just like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it becomes until you wondered why it was so hard in the first place.
In lament, we confess our trust because our hearts need the reminder of the truth of God’s character.
Our understanding of God’s character is what’s on trial when we exercise trust in the face of confusing and hurtful circumstances. Our hearts sway with our emotions, but a heart that can find its anchor in the Lord of Hosts is the heart that learns the lament.
Lament is the song our hearts sing as it mourns our circumstances, as it points our hearts to trust in God’s character, and as it expresses all the pain that we never dreamed we would feel. Lament’s song gives voice to our pain and brings hope to our heart.
But what happens when our emotions of despair and depression rage and threaten to steal our peace of mind?
Confession of trust is more than just saying over and over again, “I trust you, God.”
It’s declaring the truth about God while feeling the emotions of despair.
If we look at Psalm 31 as an example we see how David confessed his trust in God and declared truth about God’s character.
He calls God faithful as he commits himself to God.
David rejoices because he knows God sees his affliction and knows the distress of his soul and that God’s steadfast love holds him fast.
And even though enemies surround him, God has set his feet in a broad place, which echoes Psalm 23 where the Psalmist is brought to a spacious place of abundance in the presence of his enemies.
You see, trust is not an absence of fear or doubt, but the expression of confidence that God is bigger than your situation, fears, and sorrow. And not only is he bigger than all that pain, but he is compassionate beyond your wildest imaginations.
Even when it hurts and you don’t understand what God is doing or why he is not acting the way you expect, trust his heart.
On BibleGateway.com, type the word “trust” in the search box.
Then select Psalms from the sidebar where it says “filter by.” (depending on which translation you choose, there should be around 60 from the Psalms)
Choose 3-5 verses that speak to your heart about trust.
Then examine what other action words are paired with trust in each verse.
Example: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” Psalm 9:10.
Know and Seek are the other action words paired with trust in this verse.
As I read this verse, I see that I need to know God’s name, which means I begin to understand the different names of God such as El Roi and El Shaddai.
To seek means to look and to search for him and this is so very important when all we see is dark clouds and sorrow. He will give you eyes to see him as you seek him.
Seeking God and knowing his name grows our trust.
Confidently commit your life to God, knowing that you can rejoice because of who he is and what he’s capable of doing. Anticipate God moving on your behalf and praise him for it.
Put trust in action by getting to know God’s heart of love.
“The cry of pain is our deepest acknowledgement we are not home. We are divided from our own body, our own deepest desires, our dearest relationships. We are separated and long for restoration. It is the cry of pain that initiates the search to ask God “What are you doing?” It is this element of a lament that has the potential to change the heart.” Dan Allendar
It seems as though my heart’s been doing much crying these last couple of weeks. Crying for lost relationships, lost dreams, and lost hopes. This world lies broken in pieces and it reminds me, once again, that this is not home.
As wonderful as life on earth can be, as amazing as Jesus’ good news is, and as constant as God’s presence carries me, this present life is not my final destination. I’m a wayfaring sojourner and every once in a while the pain of this life becomes my stark reminder that my life here is a temporary, albeit, preparatory journey for the life to come.
Living this life in the here and now, with an eye fixed on eternity, requires us to enter into this life fully, including all the joy and pain. The abundant life Jesus was referring to doesn’t mean a pain-free life, but a life lived with abundant faith, hope, and love.
Our life: faith-filled, grace-directed, and always-transforming, grows more and more three-dimensional when we run towards God . . . even if it means running through pain and sorrow to get to him.
God gives us lament as a means to communicate the depths of pain in our hearts. The cry is an integral part of lament that propels us towards hope.
It’s a cry of pain, anger or confusion. It’s a cry that empties all the hurt in our heart at the feet of Jesus and a cry that points us back to faith in him.
Psalm 31 is a great example of Lament. This chapter contains all the elements of lament and gives us a model to follow.
In the first two verses, we read David’s cry. But we don’t picture him stomping his foot like a toddler demanding attention, screaming at the top of his lungs. Instead we see David’s heart’s cry with pain and longing while he declares attributes of God.
David cried for deliverance, rescue, and saving.
What do you need deliverance from? What storm is bearing down on you with no relief in site?
I’ve seen storm clouds brew on the horizon and watched wild winds whip the grass into swirls and then dashed for shelter as lightning blazed and thunder reverberated in my ears.
There are times when God prepares our hearts for the storm that’s heading our way and other times it takes us completely by surprise. But no matter whether you knew ahead of time about the upcoming maelstrom or were completely taken by surprise, the emotional response is still the same. Shock. Hurt. Pain. Questions. Anger.
We can stand defiantly or cower fearfully, but what we must do is cry:
“God, I take refuge in you. Deliver me. You are righteous, don’t let me be put to shame. Lean towards my cry and come to me quickly. I need you, God. Be my rock and my refuge. Save me.”
The lament opens with a cry that states what we need and declares God’s character. It’s in declaring who God is that gives us hope and reassures our heart and puts our faith into practice.
The enemy wants nothing more than to isolate you so that you feel as though you’re alone, that God doesn’t care, and that he doesn’t listen.
By wrapping your cry in the truth of God’s character you insulate your pain-ridden heart against the deceptive wiles of the enemy.
So cry out your hurt to God. Cry out your fears and questions and doubts. But remind yourself that God is righteous, that he is your shelter, and strength. That he is with you, he is constant, that he hears you and longs to rescue you.
Look up Psalm 31
Paraphrase versus 1-2 into a prayer appropriate for your situation.
Be sure and include attributes of God’s character.
(you can use a thesaurus to find other words for refuge, righteousness, rock, and fortress)
Let the cry that’s hidden deep within you gain full expression in your voice as you explore the language of lament.
(Click the player below to hear me read the post)
Have you ever read something in your native language and then asked, “huh”? Learning a new language isn’t limited to foreign languages, but also to learning new skills. When I learned to crochet, I needed to learn what the abbreviations stood for and what it really mean to “dc in ch”. As I learned music, I needed to familiarize myself with music theory. Each learned skill possesses its own language.
Lament is the lost language of honest communication between God and man. It’s the bridge that connects rejoicing and suffering. But we’ve forgotten how to speak it in the light of “give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice always”.
Afflictions like sickness, loneliness, mistreatment, aging, and death affect our daily lives. Disappointment plagues us and makes the soil of the heart ripe for seeds of bitterness. Bitterness then grows into an invasive weed that chokes out all that is good and right and pure in our hearts.
Lament reconciles praise and thanksgiving when our hearts break with suffering.
Lament becomes act of faith, a proclamation of hope, and a refinement of love when done in a biblical manner.
Faith is the trusting of our entire selves to God. We cry, “why, God” because we’re desperate to find meaning in our suffering. Biblical lament leads us to greater faith because it points us back to God and his attributes and character while giving opportunity for our doubts and runaway emotions to experience God’s redemption.
Hope has a name and his name is Jesus. Jesus was neither unemotional or ruled by emotions, but he kept them in the perspective of God’s will. We see this in the account of Lazarus and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus didn’t deny his emotions; he expressed them and then submitted to God’s will.
Lament becomes the greatest song of hope because it reveals that, despite how we may feel about ourselves or our situation, God is able to do above and beyond anything we can hope for or imagine. Cry out your pain and then express your hope because hope follows suffering according to Romans 5.
Lament refines love. We’re commanded to love one another like we love ourselves, but what if you hate yourself and speak words to yourself that are filled with disgust and condemnation? It’s exhausting to love others when you’re filled with negativity towards yourself.
When we live in community with each other, egos get bruised, hearts wounded, and offenses taken up, but if we don’t deal with the emotions of those situations, our relationships falter.
Lament gives us the freedom to express to God our uncensored feelings about our sufferings. And when we fail to lament we can fall into the trap of slander, gossip, and revenge. Part of the healing of our hearts from heart-wounds involves learning to lament biblically.
When we learn to speak the lost language of lament we experience life, hope, faith, and love.
Emotions are neither good nor bad, but they are indicators of your heart and if acted upon can lead to life-giving choices or life-stealing cycles. God gives us the language of lament as a healthy way of expressing all the feelings this life brings.
The dramatic structure of a piece of literature includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement, and a story isn’t complete without each of these elements. Lament follows a similar arc and if we miss a piece, we rob ourselves of authenticity in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and it robs society of solid answers to deal with heartache and suffering.
Biblical lament includes these five elements:
The Cry for Help.
The Expression of all the feels.
The Confession of trust.
The Petition to God to act on our behalf.
The vow and expression of praise.
We’ll cover each of these five components over the next month as we explore expressing emotion in a biblically healthy way.
God provides a healthy way to express the varied emotions we experience that brings faith, hope, and love.
Scripture to ponder: