from Rev. Bruce Wood - November 2015
in News First ó our monthly church newsletter
(I had so many comments about this reflection on lament, that I thought it might be helpful to have it down in writing to read at your leisure.
This is an
abridged version. If you want the full experience - come along on any
and wit, and happiness are very important ingredients in our living, and so are
sorrow, and sadness, and lament. Lament is an important, and yet, often
neglected expression of our humanness. Laments are protests and complaints
- raised at times of crisis and great need - by individuals, and by communities
- as an expression of their grief, and sorrow, and suffering.
announces aloud and publically whatís wrong - it creates room for expressing
grief and loss - and names the weeping and fracturing of our relationships.
might sound a bit like this. Why is this happening to me? Iíve
tried to get things right, and now thereís so many things going wrong.
Theyíre driving me nuts! Whatever happened to my normal life? And
what about you God, where are you? Not sure if you even really exist any more!
But if you do, what about some answers? What about making some of these
awful things go away?
are not polite, or soothing, or gentle. They are not said in a modest, or
timid, or retiring manner. Expressing lament is about giving voice to our
suffering - and our raw emotions - those raw feelings that create havoc inside
our being. They are about giving ourselves permission, to vent those
Bible is filled with lament - 50 of the Psalms are plaintive cries to God for an
explanation. The entire book of Lamentations is devoted to lament.
Psalm 22 begins with some of the most devastating words of any lament, my
God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
what follows are some of the most potent laments in the whole bible.
plaintive cry is not the whole Psalm. The second part of the Psalm breaks
out into a surprising element of lament. That is - when the protest has
been sounded long and loud - and the rawness of the complaint has been laid out
- lament changes - from despair, to hope. However, the words of hope -
only come after the lament.
typically comes in 3 parts. Part I - we get mad at what is happening to
us, or maybe with God, and pour out our emotions. Part 2 - our complaints
gradually subside, and we remember that we are all part of something much bigger
than ourselves. And Part 3 - we begin to realize that once again we are
actually okay - and there is hope in our future.
movement from arguing and protesting - to remembering Godís goodness - and
then thanking God for the hope that is in humanity - is not a process we can
rush. We need to give ourselves - and others - time, and space, to grieve
in a way that leads to healing and renewal.
out of context, lament may seem to be a denial of faith in a loving God - or a
wish to blame someone for what has happened. However, lament hangs on to
God, pleading and complaining in hope of a response. Quietness, and
holding back emotions and feelings that threaten to explode, are not the
actions of one who has faith in a living God. Lament keeps the
conversation and the engagement with God alive.
of deep sorrow and suffering, are not the time to throw our hands in the
air and walk away unheard. They are not the time to hold grief and hurt
inside. However, they are exactly the time to re-engage with
God - the time to re-engage with those who love us.
is meant to mean something to us, deep within our being - and that
meaning often comes through tough times. And if times are tough - then you
need to feel comfortable enough to express your feelings - to express your
frustrations - without harming anyone else. When you do that, it
may make people around you feel uncomfortable - but their job is to listen - not
to fix - however difficult they
good news is that thereís healing in lament - and there is hope in lament -
however - thereís no way to tap into that healing and that hope - without
going through the eye of the storm.
life journey will bring with it joy, and happiness, and delight - as well as
uncertainty, and anguish, and sorrow. But God is not a passive distant
blimp, looking from afar. God is like a parent whose children's freedom
brings them pain - God's tears, are mingled with our tears - God's agony, is
united with our agony - God's heart, breaks with the breaking of our heart.
remember that God doesnít need protection from our honest and searching grief,
and the pain of our hearts. God wonít be shocked or stunned by our
complaining, or the intensity of our pain - and God will not block us out
because we come with rage and intense emotions.
lament lets us express our hurt and our pain, not in spite of our trust
in God, but because of our trust in God. Lament is not a denial of
our faith - itís actually our faith being willing to struggle with unanswered
questions and unresolved situations, by holding onto God in the heart of the
God would say to each of us - there is no situation that is hopeless - just
situations where people have lost hope.