Lament In the book of Lamentations, the Poet expresses great sorrow. Let’s examine a few of these:

1. The Sorrow of Loss

“She who was once great among the nations …" [Lamentations 1:1. NLT]

The poet laments the loss that Israel has faced. She was once prosperous and blessed. Now she lies in ruins. She has lost everything.

Loss is something we can all identify with - the loss of a loved one, of friendship, or relationship, employment, position, culture, roots, health, or trust. Facing loss is devastating. To work through loss is a journey, not an event. There are no straight-forward answers and no time-lines. What certainly doesn’t help is people telling us to “just get over it” or “have more faith”.

There are some phases of grief that people generally walk through and that are helpful to understand:

a. Shock and denial — this stage is characterized by feelings of numbness, disbelief, or confusion.

b. Anger — this anger may be expressed through things such as blame, guilt, frustration, fear, or resentment.

c. Depression — overwhelming emotions can cause things such as fatigue, lack of motivation, desperation, agitation, restlessness, or feelings of isolation.

d. Acceptance — this final stage comes slowly and only after people are able to reach out, talk about their experiences, find new meaning, explore new options, focus, and put a new plan for their life in place.

For ones supporting people that are facing loss a few thoughts: choose your words wisely, don’t feel you need to have an answer for everything and don’t feel you need to defend God (He is quite capable of that Himself). Just be there. Be practical. Just love them. Don’t try out your profound theological reflections like Job’s three friends did. The best thing they did was sit with him and shut up.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. [Henri Nouwen]

The Poet laments his loss. He is not deluded into some positive confession exercise. Loss stares him in the face in the most gruesome way and his response is one of sorrow and grief. Maybe Christians would be a lot healthier if they understood the process of grief and gave one another permission to lament the many losses we face in life.

[Guest post by Nicole Conner]

4 thoughts on “Lamentations – Where is my Happy Ending? (Pt.2)

  1. Don’t mean to hog your Comments section again, but if some of this mindset flows up to the north of the country, that’d be great! See if you can export some of it! We’re a bit resistant to Victorian imports (especially your beer) but I’d welcome this with open arms. Sadly most of your counterpart churches up here are only ankle deep in biblical theology. The ‘topical’ sermon diet is very selective.
    If I may leave you with this: 8 Years ago I happened to be talking to a retired pastor in his 70’s or so. I nicknamed him ‘cuddly’ because……he was so cuddly and his mouth dripped with honey when he spoke. He had more warmth about him than an electric blanket! Somehow we got into the topic of contemporary worship songs and he sheepishly admitted to me that he prefers old Weslyean hymns. I thought, that’s normal for someone in his age group, no surprise there. But what blew me away was THE REASON he liked old hymns. When I asked him ‘why’ he said: ‘because they were written by people who suffered’. I’ll never forget his words!
    In the same vein, I doubt the Psalms would have been as deep and meaningful if they were written by someone who creatively romanticized hardship than someone who lived it. David who was a sufferer placed high value on what people produced in the midst of adversity when he was commander-in-chief. 2 Samuel 23 records an incident when David was very thirsty in battle and his tactical response team risked their lives to bring him water by breaking through the Philistine lines. David refused to drink it saying, ” ‘Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it”. For David HOW that water came about was more important than the water itself. It almost had a sense of sacredness about it.
    If you read Hebrews 2:18a & b in reverse order it stands out that what qualifies Jesus to help us when we’re tempted is not his omniscience and power, but the fact that He went through the ringer Himself and was also tempted! “(b) he is able to help those who are being tempted (a) BECAUSE he himself suffered when he was tempted” So it’s not what Jesus KNOWS (how temptation works) that makes him qualified, but what Jesus IS (someone who lived here and was tempted like we are. ‘Been there done that’ so to speak).
    Ok I better quit before I get accused of sermonising.
    Thanks once again Nicole.

  2. Hi John,
    Shortly after I lost mum (who was also one of my closest friends) we sang Horatio Spafford’s hymn “It is well with my soul” at church:
    “When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
    The comfort we find in songs written with tears and pain. You would know his story, I’m sure – how the ship carrying his wife and four daughters sank – only is wife, Anna, survived.
    The hymn was written from that reflection.
    It seems the aspect of suffering connects the Christ community in a mysterious way.
    A few years ago I stood in an underground catacomb near Rome where believers had hewn crude graves out of rock to bury their dead. Most of them had lost their lives in violent persecution. It felt like I was surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses – faithful men, women and children who had gone before. Giants of faith who stood in the most difficult circumstance. To deny suffering and the suffering of others is to deny the body of Christ, and ultimately deny Christ Himself.
    Hey, between you and me we can start a sermon series 🙂 That is why i don’t blog…. i tend to rant 🙂

  3. Nicole, for anyone that appreciates the suffering aspect of the gospel, I highly recommend the book ‘The Heavenly Man – Brother Yun’ if you haven’t read it already. It is primarily testimonial and chillingly real about what it was like being a Christian in communist China and his many years in prison where he did hard labour outside the camp knee deep in faecal matter (the communists’ version of organic recycling). I promise to anyone who reads it, they will never complain about the low resolution on their plasma again!
    My compliments again to you, your husband and your ministry. I hope this influence spreads.

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