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Looking backward: former-glory laments

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By Dave Henning / September 29, 2019

“I think our former-glory or what-could-have-been laments . . . are an expression of looking backward — not so that we get stuck in the past or stumble over it, but as a way to surrender the past to God and begin living wholly in the new reality in front of us.”- Aubrey Sampson

As Aubrey Sampson moves on in Chapter 7 of The Louder Song, she notes that she’s forgotten to cling to Jesus in her days of never-ending pain.  Instead, the author admits, she clings to her former glory.  And, she compares her clinging to former high school athletes unable to fathom parting with their trophies.  Also, think of Hagar and little Ishmael alone in the desert, as they lament the former glory of life with Abraham.

Hence, Aubrey astutely observes, sometimes affairs don’t occur with other people.  Rather, affairs take place with a fantasy version of oneself.  Aubrey explains:

“Haven’t we all struggled with some version of a former-glory lament?  For anyone walking through seasons of difficulty, particularly when that difficulty seems like it will never end, an inevitable part of the process is wondering about the what-ifs or the if-onlys. . . .  I’ve discovered that the healing process always involves a proactive journey of grief. . . .  A process of intentional grief helps us escape the prison of our pasts.”

Therefore, to grieve our disrupted futures, and move through our pain, we need to create space.  Above all, the author stresses, it’s legitimate, even healthy, to grieve for our past pain and alternate versions of the future.  Because we lament real losses.

In conclusion, Aubrey notes that scholars refer to laments that involve looking backward as laments of the dead.  As Aubrey states, these aptly named laments:

  • grieve the death of another
  • often aren’t expressed directly to God, since the circumstances can’t be changed, there’s nothing you need to ask of God
  • articulate the incomparable sadness of losing someone who once belonged to you
  • say good-bye to the past

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you in looking backward to hand over the past to God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Elusive place – arriving at acceptance”

About the author

    Dave Henning


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