What Have You Lost?
Throughout this pandemic every one of us has experienced some kind of loss. Some have lost their jobs. Others have lost being with friends, graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, worshipping together as a church, family get-togethers, sports seasons, money, a favorite hobby, wedding ceremonies, and the list could go on and on. The reality is we've all lost something over the last few weeks. We're all in a season of intense loss. Just fill in the blank for yourself —what losses have you suffered as a result of this pandemic?
As we experience these losses, we may find ourselves responding in one of two ways. The first is despair. We may experience despair when we put so much value in something and make it ultimate in our lives, that when we lose it, when it’s taken away, we lose all sense of hope and meaning in life. We’re completely crushed, as if our identity and purpose for living has been ripped from us.
The second typical response is denial, when we deny the pain and sadness that we feel because of the loss. We act like what we’re experiencing is no big deal and that it doesn't effect us in anyway. We stuff our emotions down, or even ignore them altogether, and keep on plugging away.
I would argue that both of these responses are unhealthy and not the way God intends for us to respond to the sadness we experience over our losses. We're not to allow our feelings to cause us to despair, nor are we to deny our feelings. Instead, we're to lament.
“Lament” isn’t a word we use often. So what does it mean? Why is lament the proper biblical response to feelings of sadness, loss, and grief? And not only that, but how do you lament? What does it involve and practically look like?
I found this article—Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well by Mark Vroegop, the pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana—really helpful in addressing those questions. Vroegop uses Psalm 13 as a blueprint for how to lament, and defines lament as:
“Lament is the language for living between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty. It is a prayer form for people who are waiting for the day Jesus will return and make everything right. Christians don’t just mourn; we long for God to end the pain.”
If you're unfamiliar with the whole idea of lament, or if you find yourself either in despair over or denial of the sadness you feel during this pandemic, then I'd highly encourage you to read the rest of the article. Vroegop does a good job explaining the biblical basis for lament, what lament is, and how to lament biblically. He has also written an excellent book on lament that I'd highly recommend as well: Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.
Love you church, and praying we all learn to lament well during this season.