I think lamenting gets a bad wrap.
Lamenting is important. It’s necessary. It’s good. It’s healing. And dare I say, lamenting is holy. The past few months, I have had a season of loss like I’ve never experienced before. There’s been grief and sadness on top of pain and anguish. Hard doesn’t even begin to describe what I’ve been going through. There have been countless tears shed leading to countless sleepless nights. Just when I think the tears are over, a whole new wave of them ensue.
I’m honestly at a loss; I’m beyond done. I’m over this season of heartache. But every morning I awake to find myself still in the midst of it.
For the most part, I’m a happy girl. I smile. I make others laugh with my wickedly funny sarcasm. And when seasons like this hit, there’s intense pressure to still be “on,” to respond to these trials with grace and strength and joy. But I don’t want to be “on” all the time. Sometimes I need to be “off.” And when I am, it needs to be okay. In fact, it is okay.
But we continue to put this pressure on Christians to behave a certain way when hardships come. There’s this unspoken expectation for us to be happy all the time, in all things to be “content.” But right now I’m not happy and smiling, and God doesn’t expect me to be. He doesn’t expect you to be either.
I love my good buddy David, the king, the man after God’s own heart. Success or failure. Right choices or wrong choices, David was pretty honest with God about himself. He withheld nothing in prayer. I admire that. I want to model this behavior because complete honesty is what builds intimacy with Him.
Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
I’m assigning Psalm 86 as my theme verses for this season. No matter what difficulty David found himself in, he knew who his God was and who he was. He never lost sight of God’s promises. He never pretended to have it all together. He continually leaned in to the depth of God’s love for him.
God always hears our prayers.
His ear is always inclined toward His children. That’s me. That’s you. We are His sons and His daughters. He listens and He hears. The last few months have been filled with questions, worries, fears and doubts. Many of my prayers have been easily overtaken by a steady flow of tears. Even then, the Holy Spirit interceded on my behalf with groanings too deep for words. Even then, when I think my prayers have hit the ceiling, the Lord is all too close to this brokenhearted soul.
God is worthy of praise despite circumstances.
Lysa Terkeurst said, “God is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God.” In Psalm 86, we see David knew this. If life is easy, God is good. If life is hard, God is merciful. If I’m healthy, God is gracious. If I’m sick, God is victorious. If I attain all wealth, God is kind. If I am destitute, God is faithful.
The Lord is worthy … at all times, in every way, despite every circumstance.
I’m learning to trust God’s hand when I don’t understand His why. I’m learning to worship whether or not I feel like worshiping. I’m learning He is sovereign and His ways are holy.
Joy awaits us on the other side of lament.
Our lament doesn’t frighten God in the least. He embraces it. He created us with emotions. He knows we’ll experience sadness and even despair when things don’t go our way or when someone hurts us or when we experience loss. All of those situations warrant a response, and that response is grief and lament.
The key to lamenting well is to realize that we are not designed to live in lament.
We are designed for joy. It’s even a fruit of the Holy Spirit that resides in every believer. Lament was always intended as a rest stop, not our final destination.
There’s a joy of the Lord that brings strength, and there’s also a joy that comes when there’s a significant breakthrough. I’m wading through the deep waters of this lament holding fast to the strength-in-joy while clinging to the hope that breakthrough-joy is coming soon. And taking off the “I’m fine” mask when all is not fine makes room for breakthrough-joy to be experienced to the fullest.
I haven’t cornered the market on lamenting well, but I’m gaining new ground with each passing day. The Lord is beyond patient with us in the process because He’s more interested in who we are becoming. My prayer is that I am becoming a woman after God’s own heart, completely transparent in His presence, building a depth in intimacy that is unrivaled.
Lament has become a gift to me — not one I would have chosen, but definitely one that has become invaluable to me.
Copyright 2016 Karina Allen. All rights reserved.