"To cry is human but to lament is distinctly Christian" (Mark Vroegop)
Last week I wrote about the problem of complaining. This week I want to share some thoughts about how to take our complaints and turn them into a lament that is redemptive and healing. Lament is throughout scripture, but it is most commonly found in the Psalms. It is the way that people who have deep faith in God work through the painful seasons of life. I want to share 6 stages of Christian lament that I believe are key to finding healing and wholeness.
1. Arrive to Prayer: I'm amazed at our tendency to avoid the very thing we need the most in our times of pain. We wear ourselves out with our own solutions and talk to everyone except God about our problems. We will not find resolution with people or programs. We have to come to the heart conviction that we need God's intervention and come to Him.
2. Articulate the Problem: Tell God everything. Literally. It's odd that we try to sanitize our emotions when we come to God and talk to Him as though He can't handle what we're really feeling. Bring your questions, your doubt, your anger, and your disappointment. Spill it all out. He can handle it.
3. Admit Weakness: This is typically the hinge point of the process of lament. When we let the Holy Spirit show us our failures, such as, pride, idols, and selfish desires, we can confess our sin and weaknesses. It is then we begin to make progress in finding healing. When we address pain as victims of injustice (self pity, blame, etc.) we get stuck until we admit our need for God's grace.
4. Ask for Intervention: This is where we cry out to God to intervene and change our situation. If we get this stage ahead of admitting our weakness (which we usually do) we spend a lot of time frustrated with God because we don't see Him rushing in to fix everything. If we first realize our tendency toward sin, the intervention we will want the most is His intervention in our heart. We will be more driven to see a miracle happen in our heart than we will in our circumstances. The request for a changed heart is the prayer that God loves to hear.
5. Anchor Yourself in Christ: The waiting can be the most difficult. It is in this stage where we have found some answers but nothing seems to have changed. It is here that we must trust fully. We can not afford to grow impatient and start looking for other answers. Imagine tying yourself to a stake in the ground and anchoring yourself there as your only hope. He waits to be trusted and we must not waver in our belief in His goodness toward us.
6. Accept the Process: Make peace with His plan for your life even if you don't understand it. Hold onto the belief that God knows what He is doing and submit your heart to His timing and process. It is here that we reach a new level of maturity and discover peace that passes all understanding, and it is also here that we discover deep healing and wholeness.
Pain is a gift because it is an opportunity to experience God in a way that we don't experience Him in the good times. I have found my sweetest times with God to be in some of my darkest moments. I would not be who I am today without the fires of testing. I don't enjoy struggle, but I'm learning how valuable it is. If you are in a difficult season of life I challenge you to lament with humility and honesty. The essential difference between complaining and lamenting is faith. Faith that God is at work and can be trusted with our story.
Your prayer of lament could go something like this (fill the blanks in with your own personal situation): "Lord I'm feeling _________________. I'm sorry for __________________ and I need your grace to help me overcome _________________. I need you to change my heart from ________________________ to ____________________. I will trust You even though I don't understand what You are doing. I submit to your timing in _________________ and believe that You have a glorious plan for my life."
I've learned most of what I share, in various degrees, from listening to thoughts by several men: Mark Vroegop, John Piper, & Tim Keller. I have the links to a couple sermons that have been so helpful to me right here: https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/hemans-cry-of-darkness-2/ http://www.strategicrenewal.com/2017/10/16/keynote-message-2/ If you are going through a difficult season of life, I think that you will find these very helpful.