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The thin line between lament, despair

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By Dave Henning / October 9, 2019

“Although Jeremiah’s resignation may seem like despair, the difference between lament and despair is a thin line — and that line matters.  Despair gives up.  The word despair is from the Latin de (down from) and sperare (hope).  Despair moves down from hope.  Lament is the opposite.  Lament moves us up to hope.”- Aubrey Sampson

In Chapter 11 (“What Kind of God Do We Have?  Withness Remains”), the final chapter of The Louder Song, Aubrey Sampson reminds us that lament takes time.  Secondly, lament takes perspective.  Furthermore, sometimes we cannot:

  • lament immediately
  • lament in the initial moments of our struggle
  • muster the effort and repetition to strengthen our lament muscles
  • lament without community; we need to grieve with others

Above all, the author exhorts, take heart.  Because there’s an end to all laments.  Moreover, the lament-ending love of Jesus answers every human lament.  Therefore, we embark on an up-to-hope journey.  For ultimately we journey up to Jesus.  Aubrey adds:

“Our hope in suffering is never found by striving to see the positive or looking on the bright side.  Hope for the Christian is always about the object of our hope, the one all laments long for and lead to, the embodiment and answer of all laments: Jesus.  By his suffering, we are saved in ours.”

Consequently, Aubrey poses the central question of all laments: What kind of God do we have?  Certainly, lament declares we have a God who hears, speaks, sees, opens our eyes to see Him , calls us by name, and motivates us into His purposes for the world.

Finally, our God reveals His withness in our darkest hours.  For example, He’s far from passive or distant.  As a result,  our God is transcendent over all creation.  In addition, He permanently pervades and sustains His people and the universe.  Our Immanuel!

Today’s question: How do you balance on the thin line between lament and despair?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: The inexplicable mysteries of life – take courage”

About the author

    Dave Henning


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