I’m learning about the power and posture of lament.
Lament is described as a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. It is also used as a verb, describing the action of pouring out your heart about something that grieves you. This is part of the beauty of the Psalms where the writers pour their heart out in joy and in sorrow. It is what we see in Job as he processes an immense amount of pain. It is literally the name of the book, Lamentations, that King Solomon writes talking about finding things in this world “meaningless” as it relates to finding true purpose, our identity and worth in this life.
There are many areas in our lives that deserve some time in an attitude of lament. When we see racial prejudice and hate spill out all around us, it is a place of lament – this is not how God sees the world and what His plan is for us. When we hear about a mass shooting in Las Vegas, our hearts drop, tears fall and minds race through questions – it is a season of lament about the loss and pain that will continue for years. When a friend fights the death of a dream, death of a loved one or end of a ministry, program or school, it is a place of reflection and lament.
In last week’s blog I talked about being citizens of heaven and not feeling at home in this world. There is one statement I made in that blog about being “tired” of hearing all of the heartbreaking stories in my office… the way that I worded it may have caused others to misunderstand what I really meant, so I’ll provide a bit more context.
I long to see God heal people in their pain, and when I am surrounded by so much pain, it is easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed by the sorrow. It is one of my great joys as a shepherd to be privileged to learn about so many people’s pain in a safe, confidential place. It is an honor and privilege to show empathy, persevere in prayer for breakthrough with you, and hold onto hope that I offer to others. Most of the time I am the most optimistic person in the room, believing God really wants to move, heal, deliver and even resurrect.
In my heart of hearts, I never “tire” of pastoring and caring for people – it is my great desire to see breakthrough happen, and so many times my prayers are reduced down to “help Lord!” It is less about fatigue for me or being “tired,” and more about a holy discontent with the effects of sin that are all around us. It is a lament and grieving for others, and a deep longing for life to be on earth as it is in heaven.
Our culture tries to run away from pain and sorrow. Grief is too often stuffed in the back of our minds and the bottom of our hearts. We choose not to express grief, and then it does not lessen. It remains like a sliver deep under your skin growing more and more tender even though you deny it’s there and just try to move on through life. Lament is important for us to embrace and be willing to live with others and sit with them in their pain.
May Jesus teach us more about embracing His broken heart for so many things in this fallen world. And may His Kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
-Andrew Burchett, Lead Pastor