I remember singing a song in Sunday School that went something like this,
“I’m inside, outside, upside, downside, happy all the time, I’m inside, outside, upside, downside, happy all the time. Since Jesus Christ came in, and cleansed my heart from sin, I’m inside, outside, upside, downside, happy all the time. ” Well, I don’t know who wrote that song, but being a Christian does not mean that you will always be happy. In fact, there are many instances throughout the Bible of deep sorrow. Jesus weeps over the death of his friend (John 11:35). When he is about to be crucified, his soul is “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 13:34). Job’s children, livestock, and health are taken away from him all at once (Job 1:18-22). Hannah grieves over the child she longs for and is unable to have (1 Sam 1:10-11). The Psalms are filled with deep emotions of sorrow, anguish, and frustration (Ps 22:1, Ps 6:4, Ps 130:1, Ps 13:2).
So we can see that it is biblical to grieve, or lament, over what is not right, or what we have lost. God experiences emotions, and we have been created in His image, so we share this ability to feel sorrow and elation, anger and joy.
I started this post several days ago, and since that time, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minnesota. There are riots and protests going on all over the United States, and all this after the coronovirus has killed many, laid off millions, and sent economies tanking.
It is good to lament these things; to grieve over what is not right in the world. God Himself grieves over these tragedies, even while He is using them to accomplish His good purposes. As we lament, let us be driven to our knees in tearful prayer, pleading for the Lord to have mercy on His sinful people. The beauty of lament is that it drives us closer to God’s heart, knowing that he is lamenting with us over the brokenness of this world. There is a very real acknowledgment of something that has been lost, and then healing can take place. When I have endured loss, the pain will not fully go away until I go through the process of grieving, and only then have I experienced healing. Wayne Mack writes,
“‘Time heals all wounds’ is one of the most inane statements ever made. Spiritual wounds may harden into scars and scabs over time, but their harmful consequences continue unless true healing occurs. Time by itself can never truly heal a wound of a spiritual nature.”
It is healthy to be honest with God about our pain, to keep lines of communication open, rather than withdrawing in bitterness and shame. There is nothing else we can turn to that will heal us (not Netflix, not food, not friends, not family), so let us keep coming back to Him.
And when we have lamented, let us not forget to rejoice, for we know how the story ends. God will bring the victory, and there will be an end to this chaos, pain, and sin once and for all (Rev 24:1). Let us not turn inward, into self-pity and depression, but turn to God in times of hardship, knowing that he has walked the road of suffering with us. We can say with the psalmist,
“Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:7