Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Blessing of Lament

The profound shock and grief suffered in Uvalde, Texas has spread across the country and to the world in a river of tears and sorrow. We find ourselves bowed over wrestling for words at the loss of these precious children and their teachers. As the days have gone on, more information only compounds our grief.

Mr. Webster defines lament as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” As many have written, the church in recent times has not been all that great at lament. Often, we want to skip on past and paste a promise on the situation. But we see Biblical writers often turn to lament. In fact, almost forty percent of the Psalms are categorized this way. There is no short cut around grief and lament is part of the process. 

This tragedy is especially challenging when you're dealing with other losses. I found this true back in 2001 when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late August, and then 911 unfolded in September. All the grief seemed to get tangled together, which I found others also experienced during a discussion with a hospice chaplain. 

I've found it a blessing to borrow scriptural utterances others have penned to give voice to deep sorrow. Perhaps, you will as well. 

When I went to the Psalms in my Bible, I found many laments underlined. A few are:

·  -- “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth, I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2). The deaths of so many children make us feel as if we are at the end of the earth—somewhere desolate and forgotten. The pain causes us to wonder if our heart will stop, and we are amazed that it continues to beat at all. The Psalmist cries out to God to lead him to the rock. Our rock is Jesus, and oh, how we pray to have our quivering knees and stumbling feet planted in the immovable presence of who he is.

·    --“My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28). We are dragging around, and fatigue dogs our heels. Grief can make us want to assume an in-utero position. But the Psalmist points us to what will bring power and to that which cannot be lost which is God’s unchanging truth.

·    --“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  Why are you downcast, O my soul: Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). In these days, many have asked, “Where is your God?” The question of why God allows suffering, pain, and destruction has been addressed by greater minds that mine, so I will point you in the direction of C.S Lewis and The Problem of Pain. But even in the face of questions, we continue to hope and believe that our hearts will return to joy—that what happened on a Tuesday in Texas is not the final word. I don’t know how it will happen, but I continue to pray along with the Psalmist that we will “yet praise Him.”

It is from a book entirely given to lament, that we find a strong word of hope, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

As the earth completes one more rotation, we turn our grieving hearts to the One whose compassion is unparalleled and whose faithfulness is undaunted. We find the strength we need for that day and the same will be true for the day after that.

We continue in prayer for the families and friends of the dear ones lost in Uvalde, for the town, and for our country.

Lord, hear our cry.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022  

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