Friday, june 5, 2020

Lament

Hey Anthem Family!

We have been praying for you this week. I hope that God has been meeting you and speaking to you. I have shared the verse a few times in the past few weeks, but Psalm 119:105 has been such an encouragement to me when I feel like I just can’t see that far ahead: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Those words have been so helpful and so comforting.

On Sunday, I shared a message that talked through what it means to lament, repent, listen and live godly/righteous lives. Over the next week, we would love to walk through what each of these means as we seek to reflect the heart of God in the lives that we live.

Today we would love to walk through the practice of lament as a way to be with Jesus. This has been a heavy week. As we face the realities of racial injustice, our own sins, fears and confusions, and the pain of so many...it may feel like we are emotioned out...but this is important. Lament is more than just emotion, it is a statement, a posturing of our hearts in the midst of pain.

“The Bible is filled with this song of sorrow...lament is different than crying because lament is a form of prayer. It is more than just the expression of sorrow or the venting of emotion. Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God.”

Lament prayer is humbling and it gives the Lord room to mold a proper response in us. It is a place where the sovereignty of God and his tender care for each of us meet. 

“Lament prayers take faith. Talking to God instead of getting sinfully angry or embittered requires biblical conviction. Laying out the messy struggles of your soul and then asking — again and again — for God to help you requires a solid theological mooring. Laments turn toward God when sorrow tempts you to run from him. Laments interpret the world through a biblical lens. Christians lament because we know the long arc of God’s plan: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. We know the cause of all lament: sin. And we read in Revelation about the ending of all laments: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4) Therefore, Christians not only mourn the brokenness of the world, but we also long for the day when all weeping will cease. We wonder, “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13:1). Anyone can cry. But only Christians can faithfully lament.”

(Read this full article on biblical lament here) 

As we look at lament prayer in the Bible (many of the Psalms and the entire book of Lamentations), we can learn some patterns of Biblical lament…

1. Turn to God. It is Him who we run to, Him who we address. We aren’t speaking to the air, we are speaking to our God.

2. Cry out. Bring your sadness, your confusion, your pain, even your anger to Him.

3. Ask for help. We need Jesus. We are not enough on our own. His promises and His help are where we put our hope... “lament invites us to dare to hope in God’s promises as we ask for his help.”

4. Respond in trust and praise. Again and again we go back to who God is…and we place our trust in Him. ”The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” Exodus 34:6-7

Exercise #1: Read a few psalms of lament, noting how the psalmist does each of the above.

Psalm 6
Psalm 37
Psalm 13
Psalm 42

Exercise #2: Write your own lament. This may take some time, even more than today, but we want to turn toward God with our sorrows. This may feel totally unnatural but push through. 

In our discipleship to Jesus we want to continue to press into him, to look to him and to be shaped by him…especially when the ground seems unsteady. Now is an important time to run to Jesus, not to hide. Pray and ask what the Lord wants to say to you today. 

For godly grief (lament) produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret whereas worldly grief produces death. — 2 Corinthians 7:10

We are praying for you today!

Matt and Kristen