Learning Lament, Part 4

There may come a time when your continued laments could become hurtful, morphing into hopelessness. There may come a time when, if your laments do not begin to move upward to holy praise, they may drag you down into a dark pit of despair. When suffering comes, someone, something, or some situation has thrown us into a dark state and it is absolutely appropriate to lament and call out to God for help. Because our pleas are being heard, the expression of lament can feel good, and sometimes it can feel so good that we don't want to leave. Grief is a confusing place easily lost in and we can find ourselves turning in circles within that darkness.

While we are lamenting in the darkness we must also keep our eyes focused upward looking for rays of light to cling to. As we cling, we follow the light closely with our praises which will eventually pull us upward and outward from the darkness. If we allow ourselves to sit in pure lament for too long we may very well be digging ourselves deeper into grief than God has intended. We have the opportunity to allow our deep cries of agony to transform into a deep thirst for God and, as He meets our thirst, our words of lament begin to bloom into words of praise and adoration to our God who has delivered us into His presence. No matter the length, breadth or depth of the pit of suffering you are in, God is always higher, brighter and mightier to rescue you. Anytime a saint laments to the Lord with hope, the Lord is faithful to meet us revealing His glory to which we can't help but respond in shouts of thanksgiving, praise, and adoration. Yet if we find that our laments do not eventually break forth into adoration, we may have moved away from lament and into hopeless complaining or wallowing.

Lament is a Season

As the ever-wise King Solomon wrote, there is time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a season for everything. A season to lament and a season to rejoice. Friend, a season of lament is just that - a season. Seasons come and seasons go. There will be ice-cold winters, warm blissful springs and there may very well be a freak snowstorm in July. Life ebbs and flows. For some of you, this season of lament will come to a close at some point and in some way. Only you and God will know when that time will be. Though there may be sorrowful anniversaries to mourn, a reminder of hurt and loss that are appropriately met with a time of lament, healing will come to release you into the fresh air of adoration. We can begin as we learn to take joy in our fellowship with Christ in his sufferings; as on Good Friday, looking forward to Easter eternal.

Fellowshipping with Christ in His Suffering Brings Adoration

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:12,13

It is easy to simply want to focus on the joy and triumph of Christ but in lament, we get the sweet experience of joining with Christ in his suffering - sharing in suffering with Christ. To share anything with Christ is a joy and an honor. When we fellowship with Christ in his sufferings we get a better understanding of what Christ suffered on our behalf. We begin to identify more with the Man of Sorrows. Any sorrow you have felt, any betrayal you have endured, any wound that has festered, Christ knows more pain. This does not diminish your suffering but reveals to us that Christ has endured more for the purpose of being perfected through suffering to the glory of God - able to identify with anyone. A glorious truth for those of us in seasons of lament is this: the more intense our suffering, the more intense joy we will be met with as we fellowship with Christ in his suffering and witness the glory that is revealed through it.

A couple of years back I was asked to write a poem of lament for our church blog. I began writing and describing the intense physical affliction I endure with my diseases and the trails of thought that fill my mind as I endure. As I wrote I could see, met in every piercing pain and gnawing thought, Christ had endured the same and more. As I continued to write I realized this was not a poem of lament but a poem of adoration. I saw that Christ had met me in every moment, he had gone before me in any pain I would ever endure. And though my pain has a purpose he had The Purpose, the purpose of displaying his deity and saving humanity by making intercession for us which created a bridge back to God.

Through his suffering much greater than mine he defeated the dark forces of this earth that seemed so great and so overwhelming to me. Through his suffering he defeated them. And through his suffering, his purpose was completed. Through my suffering, as I choose to lament to and adore Christ, he is perfecting me, and showing the enemy that his power and glory are stronger than their powers, stronger than any creative suffering they could inflict. When you see this work of Christ, it is astonishing - a shadow of Ezekiel's experience when he was taken up to the throne room of God and, once returned, sat dumbfounded for a week. You are seeing the glory of Christ, the power of God, the hovering of the Holy Spirit. And if you let it, it will lead you by the hand transitioning you from lament to utter adoration of your God who delivers you into his glory - no matter your circumstances.

Adoration in lament both sustains us and ushers us into a new season. Adoration does not diminish the importance of our lament nor does it replace lament. It is a different expression of worship to God that gently ushers us out of our season of grieving. Beloved, lament is not a destination but a mandatory pathway into adoration. Whether it was the initial lament over your sinfulness and neediness at first knowledge of Christ, or the refined lament of a saint once again running to God for solace; lament is, at one time or another, necessary in order to experience true adoration of God. It is the practice of lament that perfects us in suffering and (praise the Lord!) it will not be our final destination.

Lament Laced Life

Now for some of us, our suffering is chronic. Maybe racial profiling is your daily experience or your line of work brings you face-to-face with brokenness daily or the pain of an incurable mental or physical illness or disability follows you everywhere you go. Your life's praise and adoration of God may very well be laced with lament. Thankfully, our grieving does not stop with lament. All lament will eventually give way to a deeper adoration of the God who sustains us. Grief may pull us low, but in our action of lament met with God's grace to us, we are catapulted every time into a greater capacity for joy fueled adoration. Your adoration may not be effervescent or bubbly but, even when your suffering has no end in sight, even when lament laces your life, the Holy Spirit in you makes you capable of adoration.

Adoration Comes From Experiencing God

When we look at the psalms of adoration we find that there is no psalm of adoration that is absent of suffering. Even if the only suffering you have endured is the continual and deepening realization that you are a sinner needing salvation from our great God, your praise of God is in part a result of your need for deliverance. You are not betraying your suffering if your songs of praise are natural. It is good and right to praise God as he delivers us from our suffering in whatever way that looks. Even still, when I sing hymns of praise or read psalms of adoration my eyes well up with tears. I remember that God is so great and so good that He has delivered me. Even though I am here tucked into our couch that I've made my sickbed, I can still praise God for what he has done in my life. The ways that he has perfected my heart, restored me into his grace and strengthened my faith, all the while making me firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen

Those of us who have experienced times of great weakness get to experience all the more the great power of our God. True praise and adoration come from the experience of God. In some way, He has made His presence known to you and you have been left in awe. Our experience of God is a foreshadowing of His Kingdom in Heaven. We get to see the shadow of his back, which in itself is so gloriously amazing! But it is still just a shadow, so we may praise God all the more as we look forward to the veil being lifted from our eyes when we see Heaven, God, Jesus Christ the lamb as he had been slain in perfect crystal clear sight. We will forever feel the warmth on the skin of our perfected bodies and be filled with nothing but praise. The deeper the pit from which we made our cries of lament, the deeper, longer, wider, and more intimate our fellowship with Christ. The more he rescued us from; the more we know him on this earth and the deeper the treasures of joy in Christ we will get to treasure for all eternity. On this earth, it would have been proven to you that the Lord is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does (Psalm 145). And oh what an unimaginable joy it will be when we see it without faith but with our very own eyes. May we continue to lament over our pain to the heart of God and let that break forth into consistent adoration of the God who knows our deepest groanings.
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