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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: