Gift of Lament in Lent
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD's praise, for he has been good to me.
My heart has been heavy lately for the people affected by the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. I can’t even imagine what it is like to have to flee your home in order to be safe. I have a dear friend who is a missionary in Ukraine. He and his wife, who is Ukrainian, ran pretty quickly because he has an even greater risk of being there because he is American. He has sent multiple prayer requests as they have traveled out of Ukraine. He is safe now, but it grieves him to see the country of which he fell in love with become weak and hurt in multiple ways. Pain is hard, and we all have it at different points in our lives.
Pain is something we all have dealt with at one point or another. Everyone has felt it, experienced it, and seen it. Amid our pain, most of us can admit to crying out to God in frustration, with anger, and over sadness about our current circumstances. As I think about our current global situation with Ukraine, my heart breaks into prayer for the people directly and indirectly affected by the crisis.
I have come to Psalm 13 multiple times in my frustration, pain, and grief this past week. Many of us can admit to crying out in frustration to God, complaining about our painful circumstances, or just asking “why God why!” Psalm 13 is a Psalm of Lament. To lament is to express deep sorrow, grief, or regret. The psalms of Lament are beautiful poems or hymns expressing human struggles and pain.
Each lament psalm has the same pattern of a complaint, a request, a trust statement, a praise, and a word of assurance. In Psalm 13, David begins his prayer by complaining to God about how long he will be absent from His life. He doesn’t beat around the bush but instead, expresses his very serious concern to the Lord. He starts with his grief and leads into asking God to come alongside him. After requesting God's presence in his life, David brings forth a statement of trust. He trusts in God’s unfailing love for His people. This leads to praising the God whom rescues us, sees us, and whom joins us in our grief. David expresses his assurance that God will guide him and answer his prayer.
Have you told God recently that you trust in his guidance, love, and protection? When was the last time you were brutally honest with the Lord about your pain, frustration, or sadness? Lamenting begets an open relationship with God. Our communication with God builds community with Him. Lamenting builds resiliency because you no longer build up your frustrations, pain, or sadness. Honesty and vulnerability are pillars in building resiliency. God knows what we are walking through, but when we communicate it in honesty, that is when resiliency begins! How have your honesty and vulnerability with God strengthened your relationship with Him and built confidence in your life?
After reading through Psalm 13 a few times, I would love for you to practice writing a lament of a pain that you have experienced in the past or one you are currently processing. Remember a lament includes five key elements: a complaint, a request, a trust, a praise, and an assurance.
Prayer of Lament:
Lord, how long will this fight go on? How long are you going to let your people suffer and flee? How long will there be conflict and sorrow in our hearts? How long will the forces be present? Lord, my God, answer my plea. Give light to my eyes to see your presence. For I trust in your unfailing love and mercy. My heart rejoices in your company. I will praise you for the movement I see you are having in and around Ukraine. And for the number of people hearing your truth! AMEN!
Those wishing to support relief efforts can do so through their American Baptist church, by giving online, or by sending checks directly to International Ministries. Please designate your contribution “OGHS–Ukraine Relief” in the memo line of your check.
Checks sent directly to International Ministries should be made payable to “International Ministries” and mailed to:
International Ministries Attn: Gifts Processing 1003 W 9th Avenue, Ste A King of Prussia, PA 19406
Rev. Lauren Parliament
Future Leader Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains