It’s the season of Advent – anticipation, expectation, and hope of Christ’s coming to earth. First as a baby over 2000 years ago and next as triumphant King and Lord over all. We prepare for Christmas with anticipation and generally with lots of excitement. But what about those who struggle this time of year. Those who feel like they have no hope, no family or friends, nothing to celebrate, feeling all alone …
The word Lament has been on my mind a lot this past month. I’ve watched loved ones and acquaintances struggle with heavy burdens. Physical issues of cancer, miscarriages and chronic pain. Spiritual issues of questioning God, grace, struggling with addictions. Mental issues of loneliness, abandonment, anger, rage and so many other overwhelming feelings. Life is filled with many challenges.
Right now, I am facing a loved one in crisis. Without sharing details, we aren’t sure if this person is getting the help they need or if they have literally disappeared from our lives. Lament. Deep despair. Hopelessness. The definition of lament is: “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Some synonyms are: wailing, moaning, weeping, crying, sobbing. Lament is the ultimate act of surrender to God by opening one’s self with raw emotion and letting God bind the wounds, wrap you in His arms of love and cherish you, His beloved one.
I have two choices right now: stay filled with sorrow and the weight of despair over the situation or I can focus on Advent and Christmas and the HOPE of Jesus’s coming. There are times that I want to just curl up in a ball, sobbing and crying to God – “Why?” And I do. There’s nothing wrong with going to Him with my pain.
In an article by Autumn Kern on Psalm 22, she shares the meaning of Lament.
“Lamenting reveals the core of our humanity; it shows us that we are not God and that we need God.”
Throughout the Psalms, David very openly shares his soul-wrenching grief. Psalm 43 says:
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Savior and my God!
Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Can you tell the relationship between the Psalmist David and his God? Pure, raw honesty. God doesn’t chastise him for crying out “Why?” or “How Long?” David pours out his heart from the pit of his stomach, groaning his anguish. And yet, do you see what he does next? He remembers God’s faithfulness. He praises God. God desires to have the intimate relationship with us He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He already knows the heaviness in our hearts and minds. He wants us to openly come to Him and share our deepest needs, burdens, concerns and desires.
In looking for resources to encourage me during this difficult time, I came across two encouraging quotes from Ann Voskamp:
God is so moved by our being entangled in suffering — that He moved Himself into our world and entangled Himself in the suffering with us. God with us.
His glory in the highest always runs down to meet us who are at our lowest.
If you have a loved one who struggles with mental illness, which often seems to be compounded at the holidays, I pray you will pour out your hearts to God. Let Him take your burdens and cares and carry them for you. The God who was the baby in the manger is also the God who died on the cross and rose again to save all who believe in Him. That same God is coming again to make a new heaven and new earth. God is in control of all things. Pour out your hearts to Him and remember with praise the incredible things He has done for you.
Praying for those who are heavy-hearted this season ~ Faye
Here’s some other quotes that I appreciated:
“Lamentation is a powerful, and meaningful, form of worship because it places our love for God above even the worst of circumstances in our life… God does not ask us to deny the existence of our suffering. He does want us to collect it, stand in those things and make Him an offering. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, helps us to do this: He aligns Himself with our will and says, ‘I will help you to will to worship God.’ The glory of the majesty of God is that He helps us will and do.” – Graham Cooke
“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.” – Graham Cooke
“Praising God in the midst of difficulty is so powerful because God stands in the moment with us. The thing that I can testify during those moments of difficulty—when I brought my pain directly to God and walked with Him through it—was the reality that God was really there, and He gave me a deeper revelation of Himself.” – Michael Card
And this passage from Lamentations 2 and 3 has filled my heart as I’ve cried out to God in my pain and rejoiced with Him in His faithfulness.
I have cried until the tears no longer come;
my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
are fainting and dying in the streets.
What can I say about you?
Who has ever seen such sorrow?
O daughter of Jerusalem,
to what can I compare your anguish?
O virgin daughter of Zion,
how can I comfort you?
For your wound is as deep as the sea.
Who can heal you?
The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends![b]
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”