Aubrey Sampson, director of discipleship and equipping at Renewal Church in West Chicago, IL, recently penned The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament. In addition to her church ministry, Aubrey also ministers as a speaker, writer, and church planter. As Aubrey begins her book, she notes that pain and heartache touch everyone. Yet, it’s impossible to contain or hide grief. For at some point, grief explodes. So, think of suffering as an invitation with two choices. Either you continue to pretend it doesn’t exist – which clearly won’t work – or you accept the invitation. In the process, you discover that God no longer fits in the box you designated for Him. Above all, God sings a louder song over the pain Rather than avoid or ignore the pain, God invites hurting people to sing with Him.
Most noteworthy, God gives us the practice of lament as a way to express pain and survive suffering. Also, there’s hope even in our most grievous laments. Because we lament to the God who wants our laments. In fact, the author stresses, Christians lament to a God who loves us and gives us the language of lament. Therefore, we must acknowledge our pain to God in order to truly praise Him on the other side of suffering. But, people respond to pain in a variety of ways. While some people soar, for others suffering drives their faith into the ground. Plus, there’s one other possibility – pretending. However, pretending something doesn’t exist gives it power. None of these options, though, lead to true healing.
Consequently, in our deepest grief and lament, Aubrey counsels, stop searching for answers. Take heart that God still remains with you in the unanswerable. Instead of answering our ekahs (hows), God shows up in them. Through suffering God pours His rescuing love out into the world. Sometimes, however, pain just makes you angry. And lament looks more like frenzy than acceptance. You’d rather skip lament, slap on a Band-Aid, and move on. When those feelings surface, remember that God’s response to your suffering depends on Him, not you. Even when you hit walls and are at your messiest, you remain God’s beautiful one. Thus, cling to the Savior rather than your former glory. Allow your former-glory laments to move you forward. Open your eyes to God’s stream in your desert.
Finally, Aubrey emphasizes, only God’s grace opens up the veil so we experience His presence. When we feel as though God’s disappointed us, in truth that reveals a lack of trust and refusal to rest in Him. Lament, on the other hand, is the art of trusting God – no matter what He gives or takes. Slow down, marinate in God’s presence, and listen for His still, small voice. Lament creates a pathway from pain to possibility. Also, all laments contain this truth: pain and suffering are horrible and God is trustworthy. In closing, Aubrey exhorts:
“This is the hope. This is why we lament. Because we believe that one day all things will be made new. One day, Jesus will end suffering forever. When all feels lost, take courage, friend. God’s withness remains.”