Our biggest obstacle to lament

By Dave Henning / September 15, 2019

“Oftentimes our biggest obstacle to lament (besides not knowing enough about it) is that we don’t know if it’s okay to complain to God.  We’re told by Paul to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ . . .  How do we follow that command and simultaneously lament?  How do we praise God and complain to God (sometimes about God) without offending him?”- Aubrey Sampson

In Chapter 2 (“It’s Okay to be Honest: Expressions of Lament”) of The Louder Song, Aubrey Sampson describes what grief, sorrow, sickness, and fear feel like.  The author states that it’s like “running on jellyfish legs in some frenzied direction.”

Furthermore, while we’re desperate to get there, we’re also terrified of what we might run into when we arrive.  Therefore, we wait for God to step in and save the day.  However, we wonder if God even sees us in our pain.  Yet, if we’re going to make it through our situation, we can’t continue to bottle up our anger, frustrations, and intense emotion.

But, we know that any intimate relationship builds on much more than positivity, praise, and shallow conversation.  That’s not realistic for a lifetime commitment.  Nor does a shallow relationship provide a safe place to express deeper, more painful emotions.  Thus, lament occurs only within the confines of a loving covenantal relationship.  In his article “The Role of Lament in the Theology of the Old Testament,” Claus Westermann explains:

“It is an illusion to suppose or postulate that there could be a relationship with God in which there was only praise and never lamentation.  Just as joy and sorrow in alternation are part of the human existence (Gen 2-3), so praise and lamentation are part of [our] relationship with God.”

As a result, we confidently express our whole gamut of emotions to God.  We lament to a God who lets us.  Above all, God gives us the language of lament.

Today’s question: What do you see as your biggest obstacle to lament?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the September Short Meditation – “God sings a louder song”

About the author

Dave Henning

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