How do we respond to the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School? As BMH author, Robert Kellemen says, “there are no easy answers, only difficult truths.” He writes a Lament on his blog at RMPMinistries.org:
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: Telling Yourself the Truth
God invites His children to be brutally honest about life’s losses. Job does so in response to his loss of his children.
What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil (Job 3:25-26).
Listen to David’s expression of his mourning in Psalm 42:3-5.
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
The Apostle Paul does not tell us not to grieve; he tells us not to grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He chooses a Greek word for grieving that means to feel sorrow, distress, and anguish, and to experience pain, heaviness, and inner affliction.
Paul is teaching that grief is the grace of recovery because mourning slows us down to face life.
No grieving; no healing. Know grieving; know healing.
Biblical Lament: Telling God the Truth
Numerically, there are more Psalms of lament than Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Lament isvulnerable frankness about life to God in which I express my pain and confusion over how a good God allows evil and suffering.
Lament trusts God enough to bring everything about us to Him. In lament we hide nothing from God because we trust His good heart and because we know He knows our hearts.
God prizes lament.
According to Psalm 62:8, if we truly trust God, then we’ll share everything with God. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
The biblical genre of lament expresses frankness about the reality of life that seems inconsistent with the character of God. Lament is an act of truth-telling faith, not unfaith. Lament is a rehearsal of the bad allowed by the Good.
When we lament, we live in the real world honestly, refusing to ignore what is occurring. Lament is our expression of our radical trust in God’s reliability in the midst of real life in a fallen world.
For more on biblical grieving, see Kellemen’s BMH Book God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.