Learning to Lament

 

“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

 

There are commands in the Bible such as Philippians 4:4, commanding us as believers to “rejoice in the Lord always,”and in case we missed it the first time Paul adds an echo, “again I will say, rejoice.” Yet, there are also commands such as Romans 12:15, to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Here is the unique collision, to rejoice and to weep, when needed. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that there are seasons for both. How do we do this well? When we need to weep and long to weep how do we weep/ mourn well? We lament.

In a recent article on Desiring God, lament was described as:

Lament is God’s people desperately crying in faith to their Lord until God shows himself to be the faithful one he has promised to be.

Webster dictionary defines lament as:

to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively

We see examples of a holy lament throughout the Bible, there is a whole book dedicated to this theme, the book of Lamentations. Also throughout the Psalms we see example after example of lamenting before the Lord. Psalms such as 142, where we see David crying out to the Lord as he is hiding in a cave. To lament is to be honest before the Lord with where you are, how you are hurting, how you are struggling to see Him rightly. To lament rightly is to in a holy manner weep before the Lord.

In an article for the ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), looking at Psalm 142 they list out four points in learning to lament:

  1. Turn to God
  2. Cry for Help
  3. Speak the Truth
  4. Trust the Lord

I have learned that in lamenting I must:

  • Be Honest with Myself: I must admit, I don’t like this step, perhaps because I am a dude and we don’t like trying to figure out our hearts. However, in order to lament rightly I must look into my heart, be honest with myself, with how I am feeling and deal/ wrestle with it not suppress it.
  • Be Honest with the Lord:Once we are honest with ourselves we can then be honest before the Lord. Lets be honest, He already knows, how we are feeling, He knows how we are wrestling, He knows our concerns and hurts more than we know. So tell Him all of it. He is big enough to handle it. If you are frustrated, tell Him. If you are hurting tell Him. He already knows!
  • Focus on the Lord:The point of lamenting rightly is to pour out our hearts before the Lord. In focusing on Him, we are turning to the One who already knows what we are going through and to the One alone who is able to hear and answer. Who alone is able to heal the hurting, answer the searching, and restore the broken.
  • Remember Who He is: Once we have set our focus on the Lord it is then that we begin to remember who He is. That He is good and does good (Romans 8:28); that when we cast all our burdens on Him for He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22), that it is He alone who satisfies the longing soul (Psalm 107:9), that we can wait on Him and trust on Him for He is our refuge (Psalm 62:8), that when we wait on the Lord it is He who restores our strength (Isaiah 40:31), and that it is the Lord who helps us, strengthens us and upholds us (Isaiah 41:10).

Lamenting rightly reestablishes my trust in the Lord, taking my eyes off self and placing them onto Him who is able to do abundantly more than I could ever ask (Ephesians 3:20). It is here that I am able to begin to rejoice again in the Lord, no matter my circumstances.


Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.

~ Ann Voskamp

Ponderings & Reflections of 2012 and So Forth

What a year 2012 was! A year I saw God continue to be faithful in my life, to continue to grow me, stretch me and lead me in a new direction. I have been reflecting on the past year a lot lately,partly cause its the start of the new year, and partly because the Lord is just stirring a lot in me right now and beginning to lead in a whole new way, that as early as six months ago I didn’t see coming.

As I reflect on the year, I can yet again say that God is faithful and continues to prove in my life over and over that He is worthy to trust and worth following. That when life doesn’t make sense that He is faithful to encourage, grow and lead.

He has taught me a lot this year, grown me, and stretched me, more than I can put into words here as I am struggling to that. Here are a few random highlights of the year, a few top of the Year list, and a closing prayer:

HIGHLIGHTS

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1) Haiti Trip:

Once again this year God allowed me the opportunity to serve the people in Canaan in Haiti. Haiti is a place the Lord placed on my heart several years ago and He continues to be faithful to provide ways to go there and serve the people there. The people in Canaan I have fallen in love with and hope, if the Lord allows to go back again to. This year the Lord sent me to a small town by the name of Crossnore, in North Carolina to lead a team from there to Haiti, with Crossroads Worldwide. I have written about the trip in detail this past summer. It’s just amazing to see that when God puts a place on your heart and you beg Him to send you there He provides the opportunity. He is so faithful.

2) New Friends

Another highlight this year has been new friends I now have. Friends that I have learned a lot from, and that constantly encourage me and push me to want to love the Lord more. I have prayer warriors in my life that I know are constantly doing battle on my behalf in prayer, this is humbling and more encouraging than I could ever describe. Through a team member on my trip to Haiti, I got to see what it really looks like to love everyone you come in contact with. I’m always so focused to getting to where I’m trying to go that I often times miss opportunities right in front of me. Had a team member not wait to get to Haiti to love people, got to see them love people in the airport and on the plane and in customs. Then once the trip was over and we left the people we were sent to love and serve, their job wasn’t over they continued to love those around them as we traveled home. God just started speaking to me that is what love looks like. Other friends have come into my life and been constant encouragers, and have jumped right into whatever ministry opportunities are available and looked to love and serve the church. I am eternally grateful for those people the Lord has brought into my life this past year, and how He has used them to teach me.

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3) Youth Group

Although this is a sad highlight it is a highlight. At the end of this year the Lord has closed this part of my life as I have stepped down as Youth Minister at my church. I absolutely love these students, and it has been an exciting journey over the past four years. I remember years ago telling God and everyone who asked that I would never be a youth pastor. Never would I of thought that the Lord would lead me to be one, and never did I think it would have been as amazing as it was. It was a complete roller coaster, but it has been the best four years of my life. Doing life with students and getting to see some become gripped with the Gospel and fall in love with Christ, not just an idea of Him but fall in love with Him and pursue Him, you can’t beat that.

As I continue on the journey the Lord has me on, and into Seminary staring this year, the past four years of doing life with the students I was blessed to serve alongside and minister to I will always cherish.

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Top Three Albums of Year

I love music, and am always getting new albums. I based this list on the three albums I think I listened to the most this year. Albums that I constantly listen to the whole album through and through:

1) “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham

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This album is incredible, the lyrics and stories in the songs grouped up with the incredible voice of Jimmy, make this album a must have. And the title song “Clear The Stage” is one that needs to be heard and sang and taken to heart. Perhaps the most powerful song of the year for me.

2) “Gravity” by Lecrae

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If you know me, you know I have Christian Hip Hop, and this is perhaps will go down as one of the greatest Christian Hip Hop albums ever. The issues this album addresses, and the impact it has had is amazing. The Lord has and is raising up a generation of hip hop artist to declare His Name and Grace and Love, Lecrae is leading the way.

3) “White Flag” by Passion

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Always look forward to the new Passion album to come out. And this album was a constant for the year in my quiet times. This album leads to worship in my life, often gives me words to sing to the Lord that I need to say and can’t figure out what to say.

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Top Three Books Read of The Year

1) “BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas

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Easily a top 5 book all time for me. Great read from a historic and theologic view. Challenging and thought-provoking, Bonhoeffer was fully submitted to the Will of God, no matter where it lead him. We can learn so much by reading the stories of those who have lived before us.

2) “Explicit Gospel” by Matt Chandler

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Great Gospel Centered challenging read. Challenging the Church to get back to the Gospel. Encourage every church leader to read this book and read it slowly. It’s the Gospel that saves us, sustains us, and sanctities us.

3) “Am I Called” by Harvey Clark

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Any man who feels that God may be calling him into pastoral ministry has to read this book. This small book focuses on the Biblical standard that is laid out for those in pastoral leadership positions. Small but powerful and straight to the point. Really can’t recommend this book enough to those feeling lead into ministry.

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Prayer for New Year

Father, I ask that as we thank You for all that You did in 2012 both in us and around us, may 2013 be a year where we pursue You like never before. Lord, please grow us in the knowledge of You and Your Will this year and increase our faith and trust that we may follow as You lead us. You are so good, I thank You for who You are and all that You have done, please use us to magnify your Name this year make your Name known everywhere You send us. Amen

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Will close with a quote I read this morning that is a perfect reminder as we head into a new year wondering what all God has in store for us:

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may only be aware of three of them.”

~ John Piper