For the last several weeks, I’ve been co-teaching a class on some books in the Old Testament. Unlike my co-leader, I’ve never taken a college level type Bible course in my life, so I’m pretty much making it up as I go along.
Thank the Lord for commentaries and the internet.
Last week we were in this book titled Lamentations. And it’s exactly what it claims. Five full chapters of lamenting.
According to Merriam-Webster, lament means to mourn aloud, cry out in grief...wail.
This book wails.
It’s set right after the Babylonians sieged and ransacked Jerusalem. Filled with starvation, disease, and death by the sword, the book spews uncontrolled sorrow. Understandable since there’s even passages about mother’s boiling their babies to eat. (And here I thought Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road was a dark tale.)
But as the grief continued, what got to me was the freedom allowed for the author to express that grief.
I feel so often, particularly in the church world, we rush to make everything all better. We set time limits on pain. Stopwatches to monitor mourning. Send well-meaning counselors to handle hardships.
We have catchphrases such as, “Don’t pray for an easier life, pray for it to make you stronger.”
Or, “Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith.”
And my personal favorite, “When life knocks you to your knees...PRAY!”
Ten years ago, hearing words such as these only made it worse. I felt they believed my inability to rejoice in my sufferings was a faith problem - not a life is shit problem.
Now when I hear them, I simply hold back the urge to call the person closer so I can punch her in the ear.
Because no matter how many times you say Jesus made it all better, it won't make the real healing come any faster.
Healing is on it’s own timetable.
I know too many times when I've deserved a good ear punching myself for fixing instead of loving. Encouraging instead of listening.
Sometimes we need to just let people lament. Give people permission to feel like ass.
They aren’t weaker for it. They aren’t suffering a lack of faith for it. They certainly shouldn’t be immediately diagnosed with depression by those lacking a PhD for it.
Sometime life just sucks. And it sucks bad. And it can suck for a long time.
What are your thoughts on this? Are there some times in your life where you’d rather have a quiet shoulder than an encouraging doer? Have you experienced someone trying to make it better, when you really just needed to lament?