Voicing Lament

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? (Psalm 13:1).

Most of us know someone for whom life has been particularly hard. Maybe they live with chronic pain, have faced the loss of a child, or have faced multiple adversities. Perhaps you’ve been in this place too. If so, you’ll know that dealing with these challenges can be spiritually depressing. We want God to intervene, but He hasn’t. And that can leave us feeling sad, lonely, and angry.

Surprisingly, these very feelings are found in Scripture. Almost half the book of Psalms is made up of what are called “psalms of lament”—cries of protest, doubt, and complaint. “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?” David cries out while under attack (Psalm 35:17). ”All night long I prayed,” Asaph says, “but my soul was not comforted” (Psalm 77:2). “Remember how short my life is,” cries Ethan, “how empty and futile this human existence!” (Psalm 89:47). As the Spirit inspired these writers, He felt no compulsion to leave out their raw emotions—even when they were directed at God.

Lament is about being honest with Him. At times we may feel He has let us down. Like the psalmists, we can voice our laments.

This can make us feel uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to be respectful to God and simply trust Him? Yes. But we can still be honest about our pain. Psalm 13 is a helpful guide here. David begins in despair, saying, “O Lord, how long will you forget me!” (Psalm 13:1). But he ends with hope, saying, “I trust in your unfailing love” (Psalm 13:5). In between, he expresses anguish, sorrow, and frustration (Psalm 13:2-4).

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Jesus cried out, uttering a psalm of lament on the cross (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). We too can bring our laments to our loving, listening God.

This passage first appeared on http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/

Voicing Lament