Lament has been THE most helpful spiritual practice in my life over the last two years. I really wasn’t familiar with the idea of lament at all – but it came at a time my soul desperately needed it. The first time I bumped into lament in a real and impactful way was at the CCDA conference in 2014. I came into the conference weary – the weight of family brokenness on my shoulders, along with the recent news of one of my kids from the neighborhood heading back to jail with another felony charge. I knew him, knew his potential, knew the times he had encountered Christ in real ways. Still, it felt hopeless. I wanted to feel sad, mad, angry over his situation and his choices, but really struggled to know how to express that in a way that honored the Lord. The thought of allowing myself to grieve felt like giving up – I think I had the idea that grief comes at the end of something, for example, grieving after a death. Discovering the beauty of grief in the middle of circumstances has been incredibly freeing, and has actually produced hope.
I’ve begun to realize, whether in terms of specific relationships or larger systemic injustices, that if I don’t allow myself to press in to the depths of the pain that exists, I’m not able to experience the vastness of hope that Christ brings. It’s in the depths of the pit that we realize how deeply we desire something to hope for and hope in – and as Christians we have that in Christ. It also reestablishes my dependence on Christ. When we fully lament the brokenness of the world – ourselves, families, systems, etc – we see clearly that we cannot do this on our own. In allowing myself to grieve over the young man headed back to jail, to weep for his soul, to peer into the depths of the pit, I was reminded that his savior is Christ alone. This is where hope is rooted. This is where we move from grief to lament. Lament invites us to press into the pain of this world so that we can more clearly see and embrace our Savior.