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Posts Tagged ‘Lament’

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Though NO ONE would ever want to hear me sing, I do so love to sing at church. Then, a couple of months ago, I found that I couldn’t sing at a church service.

It wasn’t that I was unfamiliar with the songs. It’s not that I had laryngitis or another such ailment. It’s that I couldn’t sing the words anymore. It was as though my voice refused to go through the motions.

The next week was worse. Not only could I not sing, but my throat got involved with a very hard lump … resting right in the middle of my throat.

The Sunday following was the height (or depth) of my non-worship ability, for this week my emotions joined in, along with my tear ducts. As soon as the worship began, as soon as I was on my feet, I knew I was in trouble. My knees weakened, lump lodged in throat, emotions accelerating my heartbeat, tear ducts filling and ready to flood down my red-hot cheeks.

I could not sing … I couldn’t even stay in the room.

So I left until I knew that singing was completed, until I had control over my voice, emotions, heart and tear ducts.

Driving to work, a few days later, I heard the lyrics of a song that filled me with guilt.

“how can I keep from singing Your praise”

Why do I share this? I mean … it’s kind of personal, right?

I was recently reminded of Psalm 13. This is David’s famous lament … this is David’s finest psalm/song (my opinion).

In this Psalm, David is not in a happy-clappy worship mood. He is, as Anne of Green Gables would say, in the depths of despair, and he is not hiding it from God. He actually accuses God of “forgetting him”. He demands, of God, “look at me”.

David is filled with sorrow, and not holding it’s reality back from God.

And that is what God desires of us, that we not hold back our sorrow from him. As Matthew Henry’s Commentary says,

“The bread of sorrow is sometimes the saint’s daily bread.
Our Master himself was a man of sorrows.”

God can hear our sorrows, despair and demands … he is one who knows sorrow all too well. He can empathize like no other.

When things go poorly in my life, I tend to respond well, optimistic and strong in the initial days and weeks of the struggle (I often think I would make a good first responder). But patience is not my strong point, and when the struggle drags on … I tend to loss hope, and need to, once again, cry out to God … to really cry out to God.

Those weeks of struggle to sing my praises to God … those were my season of silent lament to God. I got real with him … and God that is what God desires most.

And as I move through this season, I will, as did David, complete my lament with singing.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to
me.”
Psalm 13:5-6

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Ever cried in your pillow? How about punched something (a wall, a tree)? Ever stood in a forest and screamed at the top of your lungs? Or stared out the window, but your thoughts were so far away, you didn’t see anything? Ever sighed from a place so deep inside that you wondered if there was any air left in your body? Have you ever waved fists up in the air, while stating your sorrowful case before God?

Ever lamented?

Though the Bible has ample examples of lamenting (the Psalms, Job, and, of course, Lamentations are full of lamenting), it is not something that we often see, or do, in our churches. I am not sure that church is the place where lamenting should occur, but the absence of this practice (at church) can make people think that it is not something that we should do … period.

Often our christian circles can be so … clean, happy, perfect …

UNREAL!

We are not living on the side of eternity, we are living lives in this temporal, sin-filled worlds, with sin-filled bodies and minds. We live lives of sorrow, disappointment, worry, sickness, heartbreak and agony. To live authentically does not mean we paste a smile on our faces and sing Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).

To lament is to pound our chests, and, with fountains falling from our faces, cry out,

“God, I hurt!”

“God, I don’t know where you are in this!”

“God, did you leave me? Because I feel so alone.”

“God, why did you allow my enemies to do this to me?”

“My God, why did you …

forsake (abandon) me?”

David lamented.

Job lamented.

Jeremiah lamented.

Rachel lamented.

Jesus lamented.

To lament is to powerfully, passionately voice our sorrow, our agony. To lament is to pour out your heart. To lament is to be the most real we can be. To lament to to come to the end of our rope … resulting in the abdicating of power, of control of ability to do it alone, anymore.

When we lament, we speak, we cry, we moan in the most pure and beautiful language to God’s ears. To lament is to be on our way to acknowledging that we cannot do it (life) without Him.

God can handle our laments … our God has broad shoulders, and he wants us to lay the weight of our world on them.

 

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“How much longer will you forget me, Lord? Forever?
How much longer will you hide yourself from me?
How long must I endure trouble?
How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night?
How long will my enemies triumph over me?”
Psalm 13:1-2

Well now, that is not a very cheery way to start a writing! Those words do not cause us to start the day on an optimistic point, and yet, this very day, those words give voice to the heart cries of many around us.

On this day after Valentine’s Day, not all are awakening with the glow of being loved. Some are rising with the weight of sorrow, of loss, of rejection, of loneliness, of brokenness. Some, like the psalmist, David, are awakening with lament in their hearts, and on their lips.

David, the psalmist, the shepherd, the king, reminds us that to lament is part of life in our broken world. He not only reminds us of it’s reality, but, because he laments, he gives us permission to lament as well. And what an example he gives.

“Look at me, O Lord my God, and answer me.
Restore my strength; don’t let me die.
Don’t let my enemies say,
We have defeated him.
Don’t let them gloat over my downfall.”
Psalm 13:3-4

This psalm not just a cry, but a demand! The scripture above indicates no gentle hinting, but demands, pleading for attention. He wants God’s full attention, “look”! like a child with an immediate need, he wants not just his father’s ear, but his eyes. He wants to know that he has the full attention of his Lord. And not just his attention, but a response!

Maybe you are different from me, but have you ever waved your fists into the air to God? Have you ever felt unheard? Weak? Dying (emotionally)? Defeated? And all you could do is wave your fists, or stretch out your arms to your Creator and say, “are you hearing me? I am desperate, and I don’t hear your voice.”

It is okay to be real with God. It is okay to be angry with God. He is our Father God, he knows we are angry, even if we smile and fake our way through life. Even when we pray only praises and thanks to Him, He knows the sorrow, the fear, the anger in our hearts. I believe His father shoulders are wide enough for us to tell Him the truth.

As we follow the example of David, we see that the lament is not without hope. David can lament openly and honestly to the living God, because although he cannot see a resolution to his current problem, he knows that the God he is lamenting to is one who loves him. David knows that, although he cannot see how his chains will be removed, God WILL rescue him. And not only that, but David goes from singing, no … moaning a dirge, to singing his praise to God, “because he (you) have been good to him (me).”

 “I rely on your constant love;
I will be glad, because you will rescue me.
I will sing to you, O Lord,
because you have been good to me.”
Psalm 13:5-6

The following clip is of Psalm 13 put to music. It is one I have sung, no … moaned, in lament to my God, when I just could do nothing but raise my hands to the heavens, and let the tears fall. And in those times, I have felt the presence of a living God who has always been good to me.

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Is there any edible token of the Christmas season that is more common than the sugar cookie, cut out and decorated festively?

The other day was Christmas cookie baking and decorating day. I had made the dough, and icing of various colors.

Only our youngest daughter, and our student from China decided to participate in this event. Our daughter from China was so excited to be making Christmas cookies for the first time. First time experiences create an atmosphere that just makes you want to be around.

Over a period of about two hours, the two girls (plus periodic visiting participants) rolled, cut out, baked and decorated about four dozen cookies. They chatted, giggled, gave each other decorating advice, sang Christmas songs, and compared their creations.

What a beautiful thing to have opportunity to introduce and share in the first experiences of our sweet girl from China. To see her excitedly jumping up and down, awaiting for everything to be ready to make cut out cookies for the first time gave our home a feel of excitement liken to … Christmas.

Christmas is a time of excitement, a time of wonder and anticipation. That is why, at this season, we sing “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 is where this beautiful, ages old Christmas carol originates. It states, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” And the excitement for the coming Messiah began.

This carol communicates lament, or mourning. And yet, it is a most popular of all hymns of the advent season. A season of anticipation, of wonder of … excitement. What a contrast it is to pair lamenting and anticipation. But, truly we lament, we mourn most productively when we acknowledge that our mourning is for a season, and that God’s providential hand will, indeed, work it all our for the greater good.

And what better good could there be than Emmanuel, the one who came to save. The one that was anticipated, as Israel mourned her loses.

When we sing Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel this season, may we do so with the excitement and anticipation (and wonder) of our young girl from China, who couldn’t wait for the time to make sugar cookies. May we sing with our mouths, and with our hearts, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

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