Lament, there is an entire book in the Old Testament devoted to it. The Psalms are replete with it. The actual number is open to interpretation and debate, but it is safe to say that 1/3 of the Psalms are songs of individual lament or songs of sorrow for the nation of Israel. Christina Fox recently wrote in the Ligonier Ministries blog, “Lamenting is an art that we don’t often practice in Western culture…. When difficult circumstances cut into our lives, we are likely to seek out false saviors to rescue us. We bury ourselves in work, entertainment, or a pint of ice cream.”
Recent tragic, horrific events in Brunswick, Georgia and Minneapolis, Minnesota have given voice to cries of lament. Rightfully so, but families are regularly visited with tragic, horrific death. During the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, similar stories of murder brought tragedy and grief to families near Chicago and the vacation mecca of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. No community is safe from tragedy, hatred, and senseless violence. We do not wish to minimize the death of George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery. It is our hope that adding names of others who suffered horrific, senseless death will inspire us to raise our collective voice to God in lament.
May we cry together because mankind is desperately broken and far from what God intended! One of the things I love about God’s Word is its incredible honesty. Not long after creation, jealousy and hatred brought death to Adam’s family. From Genesis to Revelation, God allows us to see how tragically broken man is. The powerful stole wives from others. The brave became cowards and lied. Men and women of privilege visited injustice upon the poor. Wars were fought for no reason other than someone spoke a different language. What a mess!
God did not create people only to have them leave a shin crushing the neck of another crying for mercy and help. God did not intend people to be suspicious of, or act in violence toward another, simply because of differing skin pigmentation! Oh God, have we learned nothing from the blessings and grace you have lavished upon us? God forgive us for not speaking up sooner and guide us toward a better tomorrow!
May we cry together because we cannot (or will not) see the pain of others! The story of Job may have been the earliest written record, but it is as contemporary as a 24/7 news channel! Incredibly tragic events befell Job, and he cried to God in lament. Rather than join his cries to God, his three friends became his accusers. Either they could not or simply refused to see his situation from his point of view.
We are not implying there is more than one set of facts. What happened and how we feel about what happened are separate entities. We cannot allow ourselves to become like Job’s friends, ignoring the pain of others while we try to point out where their feelings are off base. God may have placed us in a position to help someone through their pain into a greater understanding of God’s presence and purpose. However, without an ability to understand their point of view, we will surely be of little use. God help us to see events through the eyes and experience of others. Help us to understand their pain!
May we cry together that the body of Christ remains among the most segregated bodies on earth! The first controversy faced by the people of the way was one of race and nationality! “As the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek speaking believers complained about the Hebrew speaking believers.” According to Acts 6, solving the controversy required appointing seven well respected men. Seven men known by all to be filled with wisdom and God’s Spirit. This issue of division was not limited to the amount of food dished out onto plates. The church faced a crisis of racial prejudice that could have torn things apart!
When Paul wrote to the Galatian church, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus,” he was speaking practically as well as theologically! Satan has played the race card since the foundations of the earth, and he will continue to do so until the end of time. Mankind has a tendency to judge one another based upon race, gender, or social standing. God’s intent for the church is that it be a testimony to unity in spite of all the forces that work to tear it apart. May we come together, crying to God for his power, his wisdom, and his grace that can unite us. Only then will we fully be the living testimony of God’s grace to a lost world!
Yes, it’s time to lament! May our hearts unite as we lament the lostness and brokenness of mankind; our inability to see things from the perspective of others; and our need for unity in this dying world!
May our lament bring healing in our land and glory to God!