Giving space for lament in a season of sorrow
Last week I received word that my friend’s mom had lost her battle with cancer. The whole family was close by during those last few days in the hospice room. My friend said they laughed and sang and told stories and they cried. They cried a lot.
As I listened to my friend tell of watching her mom slip from this life into eternity, I felt my own tears falling. It hasn’t been that many months since we sat around our precious Mamaw’s bed as she too made her way heavenward.
Grief comes. Sorrow comes. Heartache comes.
The world around us seems to say, “Push through” and “Move on.” But we can’t – because we need space for lament.
Lament is a lost thing in our culture, especially in our churches. Almost half the Psalms have at least an element of lament. In the songbook of the Bible, almost half the content is about brokenness, sorrow, loneliness, grief and pain. If you read them, you hear David and others crying out for God in the darkest days of their lives. The most emotional of all the Psalms, lament is real and raw … and it is also OK.
So why do we push those hard feelings to the side? Why do we minimize the heartache we experience? And why is it so important to us that everyone else does as well?
David wrote, “Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking; my whole being is shaken with terror. And you, Lord – how long?” (Psalm 6:2-3 CSB)
How long? When we are in the season of sorrow, we feel that “How long?” David’s words resonate in our own hearts, don’t they?
We need space for lament. We need to give ourselves the time needed to cry out before the Lord in our sorrow, and we need to give others grace for lament.
When a friend experiences great loss, we mustn’t demand (even subtly) that they rush through their grief. Instead, let us choose to be the friend who draws close, the one who offers the gift of presence.
Lament isn’t bad or wrong. It’s a part of living in our broken, sinful world. So let us, like David, cry out for the mercy and grace of God during our hard days. The day will come when there will be no more crying or mourning or death. But until then, we must allow ourselves and others space for lament.