I read this article on Good Friday, Where Have All the Lamenters Gone? I had to share this part:
Reclaiming the Lost Language of Lament
It’s time to recover this lost language. And I believe to find our way back to this essential, life-giving practice, we do it together.
The Jewish people lamented in community, and I can’t help but wonder if our churches ought to look like this today. What if we opened a door to the singles in the community who are lamenting their singleness, instead of just telling them to start an online dating profile?
I know! I do encourage you to start an online dating profile. But I hear this too. I want to make room for lament. Lament is a passionate expression of grief. It’s the cry of our heart that is usually full of anguish, sadness or heartache. And it is something to do together.
Because you don’t have to like being single.
Celebration. Lament. Joy. Pain. We get seasons of both, don’t we? Especially when we realize that if we numb our pain we also numb our joy. The brain works that way.
Lamenting together is something we can’t do in a blog format. So I encourage you to gather with your team and/or circle of friends and write a lament. How do you start? Let’s start with how to write your own personal psalm because there are elements to most of the Psalms that can be laments.
Looking at the makeup of the Psalms we learn that most used a similar structure. The recurring theme is:
- Call God by name(s)
- Ask God for something
- Tell God why you think you deserve this
- Call attention to the wicked or call down vengeance or any other bold statement that feels uncomfortable but comes from your pain.
- Give thanks to God
We will use Psalm 5 as a model for this.
1 O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. (Ask God for something.)
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. (Call God by names.)
3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. (Tell God why you think you deserve this.)
4 O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
5 Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil.
6 You will destroy those who tell lies. The Lord detests murderers and deceivers. (Call attention to the wicked .)
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.
9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love. (Give thanks to God.)
Going back to the Psalm structure, most of you will probably have no trouble with the Psalm elements of #1, #2, #4, and #5 with #4 being one you might enjoy too much, depending on how angry you are. Let’s not forget that David was angry too so do not be afraid of your anger—especially when you can turn it into a prayer to God.
But #3 may feel awkward. Who are we to tell God why we deserve something? This is who we are—we are His creation whom He delights in and wants a personal relationship with us. Personal means He is involved with us personally so I am not afraid to be vulnerably open to God. There are times my heart is smashed and I have some things to say to God. I know I can. It is not disrespectful. It is actually out of my respect for God. I feel brave enough put words to how I feel–instead of stuffing down my doubts and fears. Or trying to outperform my doubts and fears. A safe faith says “I know you are omnipotent so I will feel helpless while I wait on you.” A brave faith says “here is my cry and here is my anger and here is how I feel. Thank you for blessing the godly.” David often did this which is why the Psalms have this pattern. And why Psalms are so comforting.
So here is my attempt to write a lament for singles using this psalm pattern.
Dear God, 2 Timothy 2:13 describes you as “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful.” You are the faithful one throughout.
Sheesh, do I need you to be faithful to me now. Now more than ever.
I feel abandoned. I feel so alone. I feel like all of my prayers for a spouse have only reached as high as my ceiling. I am beginning to feel like you have abandoned me too.
I am so tired of feeling this lonely.
Yet I am counting on Your faithfulness.
I continue to pray in faith. I continue to live my life for You, even though I feel abandoned by You.
I continue to hope.
I see so many others coupled up. They have someone special to sit with in church. They have someone to share meals with. To have late night deep conversations with. To share faith with.
And I, I get to sit alone. I get to eat alone. I get to ponder great truths about You alone.
I’m tired of this, God.
I’m tired of waiting. I’m sooooooooo tired of waiting!
Yet I trust in You. You are the promise keeper. You are the one who knows what is best for me. I trust you to hold my future close to you. And to hold my wounded heart now.
Praise be to You, my Faithful One. Especially now as I cling to Your faithfulness.
I declare 2 Corinthians 6:10 out of my smashed heart, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
You are the Giver of Everything. Even my future spouse.
Praise be to You.
You may share this. But better yet, will you write a lament? Will you put words to your anguish, sadness, and heartache? Don’t be afraid of the pain of this. Remember that pain is your beginning. This is where the growth starts. Numbing our pain is where we go astray.
Will you share your lament for others? To bless others in this togetherness of pain? Please email them to me at [email protected]