A Time for Lament

For a while we were able to rattle off the cities or the names of various people and incidents where someone died. Every place from Columbine to Sandy Hook to Ferguson to Fort Hood to Charleston to Orlando to Dallas to Nice. But now the litany has become too long and transformed into one long cry. Not a cry for a rally but literally a cry of lament.

What makes it worse are the untold tragedies that never make the gloomy headline or salacious click-bait. Those daily tears are shed in silence.

As the world self-destructs, its violence born from Godless roots, we have little left. Our knees and shoulders go weak and slump as we crumple before the throne of God and weep.

So much destruction.
So much death.
So much despair.

Sadness has overwhelmed me – like a cloak thick enough to blot out the noonday sun.

And so we cry out:

How long O Lord? Will you utterly forget me?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I harbor sorrow in my soul?
Sorrow in my heart day after day.*

Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will God indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?*

Rise up, judge of the earth…
How long O Lord shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words.*

Look upon me, have pity on me, for I am alone and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart; bring me out of my distress.
Look upon my affliction and suffering; take away all my sins.
See how many are my enemies, see how fiercely they hate me.
Preserve my soul and rescue me; do not let me be disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.*

Together we must cry out to God for mercy. We are a broken people. In that cry of repentance we learn to trust. The tears we shed can and will water the ground of faith and hope. Only in that painful expression can we know the compassion of God the merciful.

We deserve worse.
We deserve judgment.
We have earned the need for another epic Genesis flood.

Many say, “May we see better times!”
Oh Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
You put gladness into my heart, more than when grain and wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lordwill keep me safe.*

Oh Lord, Hallowed be your name.
Your Will be done.
Deliver us from evil and forgive our constant sins.
Your kingdom come….Quickly, Lord.
Quickly.

Amen.

 

Scriptures quoted: Psalm 13:1-2; Jeremiah 15:18; Psalm 94:2-4; Psalm 25:16-20; Psalm 4: 6-8

35 Responses to A Time for Lament

  1. Chaka Heinze July 16, 2016 at 3:10 am #

    Let not my heart grow cold or my spirit embittered when faced with so much evil. My greatest fear is that people will become desensitized to the suffering around them. May God’s people rise up to stand in the gap. May God’s light drive back the darkness.

    • Linda Riggs Mayfield July 16, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      Chaka, I have close family members in ministry in one of the places of ongoing killing. The police department even continually updates an online “shootings” and “deaths” list, with a map showing exact locations of the crimes. I confess that I sometimes anxiously scan it to see how near the closest one was to my loved ones. Some of the people they serve are so overwhelmed with it all they experience exactly the fear you stated–they are desensitized. It is not from lack of caring, but as a means of protecting their utterly raw and overwhelmed emotions from the relentless news of more senseless deaths; but doing that is denying them the healing that godly grieving could bring. Amen: May God’s light drive back the darkness. The darkness is indeed deep.

  2. Loretta Eidson July 16, 2016 at 5:10 am #

    Amen!

  3. Beverly Brooks July 16, 2016 at 5:13 am #

    A wise use of blog space.
    Amen.

  4. Kenneth Kinghorn July 16, 2016 at 5:14 am #

    A good perspective and reflection on recent events. Thanks.
    Ken Kinghorn

  5. Deborah Raney July 16, 2016 at 5:44 am #

    My husband and I have been reading through the Bible—slowly—over the last few years and on this go-round, we’ve most recently been in Jeremiah and now Lamentations. As much as they are certainly not my favorite books of the Bible, they are certainly timely for the state the world is in today. And it’s comforting to be reminded that we serve a just and loving God.

  6. Carolyn K. Knefely July 16, 2016 at 5:47 am #

    Your words here speaks the sorrows that our grief moans. Thank you for bringing meaningful scripture into the message.

    Write on!

  7. Jenny July 16, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    Such true words relevant then and now.

  8. Christine Henderson July 16, 2016 at 6:09 am #

    Amen. God is still in control and he knows the end.

  9. Roxanne July 16, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    O Steve. That was both beautiful and needful. Thank you.

  10. Deanna July 16, 2016 at 6:39 am #

    Such a powerful message for today. It was beautiful Steve. Our world is not much different than it was in Biblical times or every era since then. But we are just reminded of the evil in our world that has always been with us. We need our God both in a personal and global way. I think in a lot of ways the troubles seem so much worse today because we are constantly reminded of the evil through the media. Everywhere we go it is there. Time to focus on the positive love of Jesus and His salvation. God bless you Steve and the words you have given us.

  11. Sally Apokedak July 16, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Beautifully put.

  12. Janet Ann Collins July 16, 2016 at 7:09 am #

    Amen to your post, and to the comments.

  13. Sgaron Gillenwater July 16, 2016 at 7:59 am #

    Amen.

  14. Patti Jo Moore July 16, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    Amen, Steve. Surely our Lord must be grieved at the ongoing happenings here on earth. Yet, as a Christian (and an “eternal optimist”) I will continue to pray and cling to the hope that I have in Him. And also as a Christian, I pray that He may use me and all my fellow Christians to keep shining His light—even though it may seem only a flicker at times in this strife-torn world.

  15. Nancy July 16, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    My sentiments exactly. I, too, have been reading through Jeremiah and Lamentations and see the parallel. I write a weekly essay for my local newspaper and have been touching on these thoughts. A young man in our church attended Franklin Graham’s appearance at our state capitol and felt impelled to do something. He organized a prayer meeting on our courthouse lawn so that Christians could gather and pray in unity. I wished for thousands; we had a little over two hundred. But people drive by and see, people walk by and hear, and God hears. I envious many coming in off the streets and giving their hearts to God if we continue the meetings. I, myself, feel a great need for living closer to God and more closely following His precepts. We now have a revival among the young going on in southern West Virginia. There may be hope for our nation yet, through the young people. Thanks, Steve.

  16. Nancy July 16, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    On my post above, I envision, not envious. Never trust spellcheck.

  17. Linda McLaughlin July 16, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Amen. Thank you, Steve.

  18. Rebecca Barlow Jordan July 16, 2016 at 9:22 am #

    So well said and beautifully written, Steve. Yesterday as I reflected on the events lately–from nearby Dallas to France again, and then reading about the voices of the martyrs everywhere brought tears streaming down my face. I keep praying and acknowledging, God is still in control…but the cries still come and need to come as we plead for God’s mercy, grace, and compassion. Our world so needs Jesus. Thanks for such a reflective post.

  19. Carolyn Curtis July 16, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    So very true, Steve, that we deserve even worse. Amen!

  20. Meg Gemelli July 16, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    Beautiful Steve. Thank you.

  21. Priscilla Sharrow July 16, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    Thank you, Steve. You have pulled the words from my heart. I have been struggling with my personal grief for our world today. You have so well expressed our sorrow and bewilderment of repeated carnage and disrespect for human life. All lives matter to God.

  22. Sheri Dean Parmelee July 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    Be encouraged, my brother Steve. God will win in the end, though our suffering now endures for a time. My husband lost 4 friends on 9/11 and could only manage to attend one funeral. It was just too hard. We have some missionary friends in Turkey who missed being at the airport by one day- they were coming back to the states to take care of her mother, who died last week and whose funeral was today. She was one of my best friends. I am broken-hearted but not defeated because we know who holds the future.
    Take care,
    Sheri

    • Steve Laube July 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Sheri, Thank you for your kind words. I am not discouraged. Instead I see Lament as a necessary part of our spiritual life. If we cannot weep for those who are lost, either spiritually or figuratively, then we miss something crucial. To simplify it…even Jesus wept.

      Man’s inhumanity to man has been the result of the Fall. Our individual and collective sins reap horrific consequences. Therefore we must lament. The Psalms are full of lament. And yet within that expression comes hope…but only if we know where that hope comes from. It only comes from God. Those who grieve without a Savior have little on which to grasp.

      Meanwhile we lament our broken world and pray for God’s mercy.

  23. Steve Laube July 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you for all the comments.

    As people, of all nations undivided, we must pray for God’s mercy. Only in His grace can we experience salvation.

    Steve

  24. Darlene Bocek July 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    Remember what it says in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    I would say the world has got quite a bit of locusts and drought. Fruit of the land is drying up. Let us not forget to SEEK HIS FACE.

  25. Bonnie Leon July 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    Amen.

    Thank you, Steve.

  26. Afton Rorvik July 16, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Oh . . . the power of lament. Thanks for this beautiful expression.

    While reading a commentary on Jeremiah recently, I discovered these poignant words from Francis Schaeffer in Death in the CIty:

    With love we must face squarely the fact that our culture really is under the judgment of God. . . . We must proclaim the message with tears and give it with love. . . . It will not do to say these things coldly. Jeremiah cried, and we must cry for the poor lost world, for we are all of one kind. . . . I must have tears for my kind.

  27. Becky Charles Smith July 16, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    You expressed our hearts beautifully. Thank you.

  28. Mark July 16, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

    Steve, thank you so much for sharing this post. Fitting and timely. May we as a nation experience an outpouring of his Spirit that brings true repentance. May His church arise in light an hope and truth. I am humbled by God’s grace and mercy as well as HIs patience and pray that this will be a time of great harvest.

  29. Scott July 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    Well said. Thanks you.

  30. Jessica July 17, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Amen! ?

  31. Norma Brumbaugh July 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Without Christ, there is no safe place. Without God, there is no hope. As acts of violence rock this world, as the waves of senseless, evil deeds increase, I feel a sorrow for this darkened world where there seems to be so little to cheer about. We as a world are becoming traumatized. Yet, for us as Christ-followers, we alone have the light that shines in dark places. Where there is no or little hope, we cling to our blessed hope. It may take great effort but we will fix our gaze on Christ. In Christ/God alone … we stand fast.
    That said, we grieve with those whom grieve. We experience fear, for the world has become a fearful place. It is a bloodbath out there. Our roots are being shaken. I wish we could stop the carnage. but what we can do is pray for openings to share the peace found in the gospel, which has the power to change lives and outcomes. Be encouraged, God is our rest. Pray for the families. Their sorrow is multiplying.

  32. KT Sweet July 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    Praising God for the lamenting Psalms. Grief exhaustion is all too real. And, I’m grateful the Holy Spirit groans for me as my words fail.

    Thank you for crying out to God in our dark times.

    Karen

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