Painful circumstances – imprecatory laments

By Dave Henning / September 27, 2019

“Anger is a natural and common response to painful circumstances. . . .  true lamenting calls for our lousiest, rawest emotions — even the ugly ones.  But anger is usually a secondary emotion, often masking feelings of loneliness, insecurity, shame, abandonment, or sadness.”- Aubrey Sampson

“Pay them back for what they deserve, LORD, for what their hands have done.  Put a veil over their hearts, and may your curse be on them.”- Lamentations 3:64-65 (NIV)

In Chapter 6 (“We Carry Each Other Home: Lament and Relational Conflict”) of The Louder Song, Aubrey Sampson covers imprecatory laments.  For example, consider Jeremiah’s vengeful words in Lamentations 3:64-65.  Aubrey explains that we refer to Jeremiah’s vengeful words as imprecatory laments.  Furthermore, the word imprecatory originates in a Latin word meaning ‘the evoking of evil’ or ‘a calling down of evil.’  Consequently, this type of lament represents our bitter cry for others to taste the pain we experience.  Thus, it involves a good old-fashioned curse on our enemies.

Hence, such curses fall under the category of lament.  Because anger chips away at our relationships – often with the people we love most.  While we assume our loved ones understand our pain, in truth, they don’t.  In addition, our pain is unique to us.  So, our struggles feel isolating.  Therefore, when anger begins, part of the lamenting process involves figuring out what’s going on underneath our anger.

As a result, when we find ourselves cursing our enemies or loved ones, Aubrey suggests asking these evaluating questions:

  1. Am I tearing someone down because I’m not getting what I want or witnessing something God Himself hates?
  2. Is this godly anger at injustice and sin or ungodly hate for some person or people group?
  3. What part have I played in this conflict?
  4. Where do I need to ask for forgiveness?

Finally, Aubrey closes with these words of Annie Lamott on loss:

“Yet the gift of grief is incalculable, in giving you back to yourself.”

Today’s question: What Scriptures help you give your painful circumstances to Jesus?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Some arbitrary joke life plays on us”

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Dave Henning

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