Today the tears of fear, disappointment, and the unique tiredness that comes from trying to be tough for your kids welled up from within me.
We have been doing the workouts, reading together, and making the most of things. We tried to make Phin’s birthday two days ago feel as festive as possible. He tried to be grateful and act like it was the perfect day. But it wasn’t. He did not get to have his party. He misses his friends. Today it culminated in him being sad and disappointed that life looks like this right now. When his honest tears started flowing, mine joined him, and we made a little river.
I don’t think I realized how much the dust of disappointment has been gathering in my heart and in their little hearts. In trying to be tough and grateful and eternally-minded, I kept pushing away the reality of where we are right now. And, while I still plan on being tough and grateful and eternally-minded, it is so good to admit that this is hard. I know it is not World War II, and I know we are only being asked to stay in our homes. But I was also reminded today that the Father’s heart takes to heart all the feelings of our hearts.
When my littlest buddy was sad, embarrassed, confused and disappointed today, even though I knew it was not the end of the world, my heart broke. I hated to see him that way. I longed for his little heart to know how loved he was, how much I was with him in what he was experiencing in his seven-year old heart.
And as I felt those things alongside him, the Lord did a work in my adult-sized heart. He reminded me that it is okay to bring him my laments over the brokenness of this world to him in their raw form.
On the flip side of thanksgiving is lament, though it is far less welcomed and practiced in Christianity today. While some see sadness or disappointment as symptoms of a lack of faith in a believer, the contrary is actually true. When we bring to God our honest, raw emotion, we are proving that we do, indeed, trust Him enough to share with Him our brokenness, sinfulness, and pain.
Job’s ongoing conversations with his friends and God in the midst of a horrendous set of circumstances is an excellent example of honest lament. One could argue that through the lament, his already-deep intimacy with God grew closer by the end of the book.
While a large portion of the Psalms start in hard circumstances and with raw, painful emotions, most of them wrap up in at least a note of strained hope. Not so the Psalms of lament (Psalm 44, Psalm 60, Psalm 74, Psalm 79, Psalm 80, Psalm 85, Psalm 90, and others). These are raw, honest invocations for God to show up in the midst of painful, dry, silent times.
In his excellent book A Sacred Sorrow, Michael Card speaks extensively about how Jesus Himself invites us to lament.
“Jesus understood that lament was the only true expression of faith to the brokenness and fallenness of the world. It provides the only trustworthy bridge to God across the deep seismic quaking of our lives. His life reveals that those who are truly intimate with the Father know they can pour out any hurt, disappointment, temptation, or even anger with which they struggle. Jesus’ own life is an invitation to enter through the door of lament.”
Just as it was okay for my little guy to want to run and hide in his covers and cry, for a while, it is right for us to bring the bothersome realities and the burdens of these changes to his throne room. Our God welcomes not only prayers offered in a healthy perspective, beautiful and balanced, but also prayers that quasi resemble temper tantrums. He will have our honest hearts, for true intimacy and trust begin there.
He won’t leave us there in messy lament. He will take us by the hand and lead us forward into the freedom of His Word. He receives our messy laments as any good father would: with grace and empathy laced with truth.
We lament with those whose weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and long planned trips were cancelled.
We lament with those who have already lost loved ones to this awful sickness.
We lament with those who live with immunosuppressed loved ones or who have been separated from them temporarily, even if it is for their safety.
We lament with those who are in fearful of losing their jobs or homes.
We lament with those who were lamenting over loss before COVID-19 even came on scene. In their double grieving, we ask that you would be doubly near.
We lament, but we do so to a Savior who loosed the grave clothes that held him for three days, neatly folded them, and walked out in Resurrection hope.