Our Need To Lament

Life is not what we expected.  We thought things would go in one direction and instead our situation has turned us toward an entirely new path.  We have just experienced loss even if where we are headed is better than where we have been.  Loss is what drives us to lament.  What is loss?  We have a narrow understanding of this concept.  If a friend or relative or even a dog or cat dies we claim that as loss.  Society has set aside space for this kind of loss. It is okay to grieve, to have a funeral, to be sad – at least for a short period of time.  But there are other kinds of losses.

We think we know the future and then life redirects us.  We have just experienced loss, even if the new path turns out better than we thought.  Broken relationships, job change, a child with physical or learning issues, financial struggles, relocation, the coronavirus are all examples of loss.  Loss is experienced when our expectations have not been met …..or…..whenever something or someone we value or are attached to is taken from us.

Thus, we all have experienced loss.  It is part of our journey.  And as a pastor once said, we all sit next to our own pool of tears.  What is my loss might not be your loss, but it is loss none the less.  Feelings of not only sadness, but shock, disappointment, anger, regret, fear, confusion and panic can be part of the mix.

We even experience loss with God when he does act as we think he would or should.  We want a God who will make us happy and set things right.  After all, if we were God that is what we would do.  When God doesn’t meet our expectations, we become puzzled, even angry or worse bitter that the God we have is not the God we want.  And so, the one we most need to help us becomes the one we most often push away.

But here is what we need to know.  Our loss, our tears are God’s invitation for new beginnings.  As former pastor Mimi Dixon so aptly puts it, “What if apparent delays and shattered dreams are a way of recalibrating our relationship with God?  What if God is deliberately drawing our attention away from circumstances into a responsive, listening posture of receptivity?”  In other words, God will use what is gone to reshape and reform us into more of who he is if we become open to lamenting with him.

Here is where our culture, butts into God’s reality.  We see a loss as always a loss and never a gain.  That does not mean the loss we experience is to be pushed aside for the gain that will come, but it does allow us to look for and even expect God’s greater purpose.

The story of Jesus and Lazarus illustrates this well.  When Jesus found out his dear friend Lazarus was sick, he waited to go see him.  The Healer chose to delay his going so that God’s greater plan could unfold.  When he finally meets up with Mary and Martha and hears Lazarus is dead, he weeps, he laments over his loss.  He knows what is coming; he knows the miracle that will occur and yet he weeps.  And in doing so he expresses what is in his heart.  A loss is a loss even if it will be followed by a resurrection.  Trusting in God’s goodness and his greater plan does not mean we stop weeping.  We are asked to trust not only in God, but in the nature of God.  God is good and has our good in mind even when the good causes pain.  It can take the pain to achieve the gain of a deeper life with Christ.

What is your pool of tears right now?  Set aside some time to talk to God about your current situation.  How are you experiencing God as he listens to your lament?

Helpful Resources for these times.

Monday, March 30 is the final day to sign up for the Renovare book club.  The book that will be covered is Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard.  Further information can be found at https://renovare.org/bookclub?ref=homepage.

Grafted Life Ministries daily publishes The Invitation.  https://mailchi.mp/graftedlife/p534w5tq2k-902897?e=892bbaf7c4.   I find this year’s focus on Proverbs helps me notice my thoughts and feelings as I seek to lament with God.