Lament is not a common topic in 21st century western Christianity, but it’s greatly shaped my spiritual walk. Through learning what lament is and how to do it, I’ve grown closer to the father’s heart.
Though it sounds like a foreign concept, lament is simply expressing sorrow and calling it into the light.
For years, I hid my pain as an attempt at holiness. I believed that if I acknowledged the presence of hurt and brokenness, of anything less than abundant joy, it meant a denial of his goodness.
In his gentle, loving way, the Lord has opened my eyes to see that presenting my pain does not equate a lack of faith. Rather, it further emphasizes my need for him.
He reminded me that he will hear whatever I have to say, whenever I call on him. Even when it hurts. (Maybe even especially when it hurts.)
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
Modern church culture emphasizes joy, and while being thankful for the Lord’s blessings is beautiful and necessary, neglecting to acknowledge the broken pieces of our lives prevents us from seeing the full character of God.
If God created us as emotional beings in his image, why do we pretend that he only made some of our emotions? Why do we act like some of our emotional experiences are holy, while others aren’t?
If I claim that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), I must also be emotionally honest about what I need his strength to walk through.
Lament is not dwelling in my pain, refusing to see the joy of the Lord. Lament is humbling myself before him, admitting that I need his joy in the midst of my brokenness. Lament is choosing to sit in his presence and seek his face as an act of surrender.
This passage of lament from the Psalms has been incredibly powerful for both prayer and expression:
Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly. Psalm 102:1-2
Learning to lament, to openly experience all of my emotions in the presence of God, has taught me so much about his character:
Lament reminds me of my need for salvation.
If I had no pain, no brokenness, no sin, what would I need saving from? Acknowledging the messy pieces of my life also acknowledges my intimate and ever-present need for a savior.
Lament reminds me that God sees my pain, not just my joy.
Sadness can be isolating. Being reminded that he sees all my emotions and meets me in all places gives me a greater capacity to know him on new levels because of (not in spite of) all my emotions.
Lament increases my heart of gratitude.
If there was no pain in life, joy would seem less beautiful. Offering my pain to the Lord makes the receipt of his joy infinitely more sweet.
Don’t be afraid to lament, to call out your pain, to sit at the feet of Jesus and admit your constant need for him. I promise that in lament, he hears you, he meets you, and he reveals himself in ways you’ve never before experienced.
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11