Are you ready to lament?
Dictionary.com says that lament means:
to feel, show, or express grief, sorrow, or regret.
On his blog, Greg Stevenson, a professor of religion and Greek, poses a difficult question (which I’m paraphrasing) – why are our hymnals and song books overflowing with happy psalms? Why has the church neglected the songs of despair, anger, and sadness that we find throughout the Bible?
My theory (and I would love to hear others) is that lament psalms are about brutal honesty before God. Despite our advertising slogans, we in the church have never been very comfortable with brutal honesty when it comes to our relationship with God. Because brutal honesty means admitting that we don’t have it all together, that a relationship with God can often be rocky and tumultuous, laden with confusion and, sometimes, even anger. Communicating this to the outside world is not good evangelism . . . or is it?
You know, I think he is on to something. We live in a materialistic culture that is preoccupied with happiness and success. Likewise, we are tempted to gravitate toward a faith that is about those same values. In that kind of culture, there is no place for a faith that isn’t about be showered with blessings and given a life free of trouble. If your prayers aren’t answered or your life is beset with challenge, maybe you’re doing it wrong.
And yet, the bible stories reveal time and time again people who get frustrated with God. Why is this happening to me? Why can the world be such a terrible place? Why won’t You heal my loved one? Why don’t You answer my prayers?
If we truly believe that God is big enough to provide for us and save us, then surely God can take those kinds of questions. Surely, God can receive the pain and woe we carry. Surely, God desires our honesty, even if we are in a dark place.
Starting this Sunday, the Table will be learning how to lament. Yeah, it seems like a dreary kind of topic, but it might just be a kind of prayer and conversation with God we need in a world that does seem filled with violence and brimming with corruption. There will be experiences of hope intermingled throughout our journey, but we will be learning to sing new songs that express our longing for a better world.
Along the way, we are going to have some great music too, including a few bands that you normally don’t hear “in” church.
Let’s cry out to God together in this season for hope, peace, health, and abundant life.