It is the start of a new year and yet many of us are all too aware that the world in 2009 is already stuffed with war, insecurity, poverty, and unrest. I find comfort in this passage from Lamentations 3. This lament is actually part of a carefully crafted acrostic poem – beautiful literature, especially if you can read Hebrew! Michael Card writes about laments in his book A Sacred Sorrow.
If you struggle with the concept of suffering as a part of the Christian life you should read this book. Card explains the idea in a lyrical voice that will leave you softer and more at peace with God. The lament is a lost art in Western Christianity but Eastern Christians have understood its power for centuries. The idea is that instead of pretending you are not suffering or “claiming victory” without exploring the root of your actual feelings, you take your lament directly to God. As you pour out your honest thoughts and complaints, a natural shift will happen. Almost every lament Psalm takes this course. The path to praise is often through lament.
There is so much to this concept and I could take you through the literary structure of a lament for a really cool example of how it works, but you have parties to attend and exercise equipment to pull out of the closet. We’ll talk about it later. For now, here is a little soul food for your New Year in the form of lament!
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”