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O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? (v.1).
Last year we watched with sorrow and concern as an
earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear disaster
rocked Japan. MSNBC captured a particularly
heart-wrenching photograph of 4-year-old Manami Kon
having the sad occasion to practice her recently learned
ability to write. Manami slowly penned a letter to her
mom who had been missing since the quake: “Dear
Mommy, I hope you’re alive. Are you okay?” It took her
about an hour to write the short letter.
In her own, childlike way, Manami was practicing an
old art: lament. To lament is to “express grief or doubt
or rage.” It’s an expression of the turmoil in our heart.
The Psalms model lament for us, providing some of the
rawest words a human could pen. In biblical terms,
a lament is a protest lodged against God, and this is
the scandal of the Psalms—they’re not words shared
human to human, but human to God. “O Lord,” begins
the psalmist, making plain whom he’s addressing (13:1).
Midway through the song, the psalmist reiterates, “Turn
and answer me, O Lord” (v.3).
Lament is the bare acknowledgment that things aren’t
right in this world, and that we shouldn’t pretend they
are. Lament is the belief that God doesn’t want us to lie,
especially to Him.
Lament not only acknowledges what is wrong,
however; it also remembers that God will ultimately
make what is wrong right. While lament is a protest lodged against God, it’s
offered to Him because He’s the One who truly cares about the injustice and the
pain and the destruction. Lament affirms that our hope, in the end, will not be
thwarted. God will act on our behalf.
“I trust in Your unfailing love,” concludes the psalmist. “I will rejoice because
You have rescued me” (v.5).
Pray another psalm of lament, such as Psalms 22:1. What are the expressions
of protest? And what are the expressions of faith and hope?
What in your life is worthy of lament? What does it mean to consider
offering this lament honestly to God without holding anything back?
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