Tears and sighing.
“When will this end?”
How will you pray when your heart is broken and you’re unsure of hope?
Let me introduce you to the Lament. To lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Let that roll over your mind awhile.
Lamenting is such an important part of your spiritual life that we have an Old Testament book called Lamentations, and within the Psalms you have dozens of examples of language that hangs between the hardship you face and the trust in God’s sovereignty. [See Psalm 13:1-3,5]:
O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle
with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die... But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
We all experience opposition and hardships within our lives. The Psalms of lament are refreshingly raw in their open expression of emotions. They show you that you can be totally open and honest with God about your frustration, even in your most difficult times when it feels like He is far away. [Psalm 10:1]:
O Lord, why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide when I am in trouble?
And on the other end of the spectrum, the lament shows you that the best way to process your struggles and grief is by expressing it to God, praising Him in the midst of them, and turning your attention to a place of total trust in the Lord and in His ability to make all things right.
O God, insolent people rise up against me;
a violent gang is trying to kill me.
You mean nothing to them.
But You, O Lord, are a God
of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry and filled with
unfailing love and faithfulness.
Look down and have mercy on me.
Give Your strength to Your servant;
save me, the son of Your servant.
Send me a sign of Your favor.
Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
for You, O Lord, help and comfort me.
There are so many bad things in our world to grieve the Christian believer. You may feel as though God is not helping you in the midst of all this turmoil! Failed marriages, loneliness, abuse, conflict, cancer, addictions, and political hostility. The crying continues because the world is broken! But we know that the problems in the world are due to sin and the evil one.
It is important to note that it takes faith to lament in prayer. Instead of getting angry and wallowing in hopelessness, lamenting helps you talk to God – and that requires solid biblical conviction. You have to lay out your messy emotions and ask the Lord to help you overcome what it is that you are suffering. In lamenting, you turn towards to God in spite of the dreadful signs of the time. That is your faith impulse!
Psalm 40:1-3 is another bright example for us:
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and
steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
You can groan and lament with prayer, frustrated with the condition of our world, but you are not without hope. Even peace is alive in you. Along with joy, though muffled for a season, for God has given you the fruit of His Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – and it is these real enthroned qualities that sustain you forever!