Originally published Wednesday, 21 October 2015.
A couple of weeks ago I traveled out of state to speak to a group of ladies on the topic of my forthcoming book. My talk was titled, The Lost Art of Lament. I spoke about the difficult and hard emotions of life such as fear, sorrow, worry, and abandonment. I shared how God's word shows us how to give voice to those emotions, how to cry out to him for help, and how his word reshapes our emotions for his glory as we go through the process of lament. It was a fruitful time of ministry and serving the ladies of that church.
The night I returned home from my trip, my grandfather had a massive stroke, fell, and broke his hip. After receiving the news, we drove three hours away to visit him in the hospital. I wept when I saw him lying on the hospital bed, weak, frail, and helpless. Our family cried and prayed together. I spent that week saying my goodbyes. My grandfather ended up going into hospice care and passing away within the week.
All too often, the things I write about are things I am working through in my own life. And learning to lament is no different. The irony did not escape me that I had just taught a group of women the art of lament and now I would have to apply the very same things in my own life.
Loss hurts more than any physical pain ever could. I knew one day I would face this loss and I also knew it would hurt. It hurt more than I imagined. But through studying and writing about the laments, I also know that there is hope in the midst of my heartache and loss. For the believer, joy is often intermingled with deep sorrow. Like the writers of the laments in Scripture, I know that God is my fortress, my deliverer, and my salvation. I know that he listens to my cries and catches all my tears. I also know that through Christ, though weeping will remain for the night, joy comes in the morning.
If your heart also weeps, this prayer of lament is for you:
"I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow..." Psalm 6:6-7
I come before you today with a heavy heart. Sadness overwhelms me. I feel surrounded by a dense fog that I fear will never lift. Like David, "my tears have been my food day and night" (Psalm 42:3).
But I know that I must come before you. I know the only cure for this despair and sorrow I feel is to be in your presence. The psalmist wrote that in your presence there is great joy. I am clinging to that promise with a white knuckled grip. Just as the psalmist cried out to you from the pit of despair, I too pour out all these thoughts and feelings at your feet.
My heart hurts. My eyes sting from the steady flow of tears. My mind is filled with memories of times past, making my heart ache all the more. I need you, Lord. I need your help. I need your strength to get through even the very next moment.
Forgive me for the ways I have not glorified you in my grief. I know that this sorrow I feel is not wrong, for Christ shed tears of grief at his friend Lazarus' tomb. But I also know that in my sorrow I have had sinful thoughts and feelings that I need to confess. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.
In the midst of this darkness, help me to see your light. I know that you are familiar with grief. I know that Jesus was a "man of sorrows" who "for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). He did that for me so that I could become your child. Thank you, Jesus for suffering and bearing my griefs. Thank you for taking on my sin. Thank you for making a way for me to come into the Father's presence. And thank you that one day, you will return and bring an end to all sorrow and weeping. Oh, how I long for that day! Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
For however long this season of sorrow lasts, I pray that you would show me more of your love and grace. Help me not to run from whatever you want to do in my heart. Help me to trust that you are at work and to rest in your faithfulness. I want to say along with David, "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul" (Psalm 31:7).
Father, grant me gospel joy; help me to rejoice in Christ even as I grieve. Envelope me with the peace and comfort only you can provide. As the days move into months, may this burden lessen. As the months move to years, use me to encourage and bless someone else who must walk a similar path. Help me to point them to you as the God of all comfort.
I know that you are always with me and that your love never ceases. Help me to find refuge in you and no where else.
In Jesus' name I pray,