People love to give advice, especially to those who are hurting. We’ve all heard it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and keep going; just start a new chapter in life; keep moving forward; and my favorite, don’t live life with regrets. But is this Biblical? Is just moving on and forgetting what we are supposed to do or is this just another poor coping mechanism like drinking, porn, busyness, or anything you use to numb the pain of what your life has become. Is starting a new chapter just another form of denial?
As we move deeper into the topic of lament, I want you to think about those poor coping mechanisms you use to forget about what you have done or what was done to you. Do you go out at night and drink to numb the pain of what you did to someone you love? Do you search for love or maybe sex, just so you won’t feel lonely? Do you work non-stop, so you don’t have to think about the abuse you have gone through by a loved one? Or maybe you’re like me and deal poorly by trying to make life perfect. As long as I do everything perfect, nothing else bad will happen to me. As long as I make no mistakes and excel in everything, no one will leave me, I will be loved, and I won’t be alone. And as long as you are perfect, too, I can feel safe.
We live in a society that doesn’t deal with trauma and pain. We literally run from it, forget about it, and move on. We are constantly being told that hurt is weakness, so don’t show it. Strong people never admit their faults and never show their weakness. So, our brokenness is left broken, we just add a layer of asphalt over the top of it and keep on trucking. Our pain is never healed, it’s just numbed with alcohol, drugs, or sex. And that hole we feel inside is never filled, we just keep making it bigger and bigger until it overcomes us. So, in a sinful world where the hurt never stops, we’re supposed to pretend we’re ok at all times. The world tells us to live in denial.
What does the Bible say? Let’s start with Job. He went through more pain than most of us can imagine. He lost everything- his crops, his animals, his servants, and even his sons and daughters. And he laments. He pours out his grief and sorrow to God. He doesn’t pretend he’s not hurting; he cries out to God in his anguish. He curses the day he was born, and he longs to die.
Job 3:20-22– “Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave?”
The Psalms are filled with lament. David often cries out to God in his sorrow, both because of what has been done to him and those things he has brought onto himself and those he loves.
Psalm 4:1– “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!”
Psalm 6:6-7– “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.”
Psalm 38:4-6– “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about moaning.”
Psalm 70:1-2– “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!”
And then we have Jesus, the ultimate example of who we are to follow. Scripture tells us that He experienced everything we as humans experience, so there is nothing unknown to him, which means he experienced deep sorrow and hurt. He doesn’t swallow that hurt down and pretend he feels nothing. He doesn’t act like it doesn’t bother him and distract himself with things or people. He cries out to God and asks for help.
Mark 14:33-36– “And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”
Matthew 27:46– “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
We are supposed to pour our hearts out to God. We are supposed to ask him for help. This is His desire. He doesn’t want us to deny the pain we feel about the choices that we and others make that hurt us; He wants us to live in truth! He wants us to walk with Him through our trials and tribulations and when we deny them, we can’t do that! My sweet Daddy told me today that we often hear how we are supposed to move through grief by going through it or past it, but really, we move with it. We take it with us forever. Deep hurt and sorrow changes you. Whether you deal with it or not, it changes you. You mix that hurt with the healing power of Christ through admitting it and feeling it and you become a better, more connected, less selfish person. You choose to deny that hurt and you deny the chance to change and become a real and honest person. You deny the chance to be and have everything God wants for you. You will continue to make the same bad choices and live the same crappy life because you have chosen not to grow from your pain. Denying your suffering means denying yourself and who you truly are, and you will eventually lose who you are meant to be.
So, how does lament help? The pastor at church today explained that lament fosters empathy. Without lament we don’t learn how to feel pain and sorrow because we ignore it or numb it. When we don’t learn how to feel our own pain and sorrow, we tend to judge others’ pain and sorrow. So, rather than helping them through their despair, we walk away or judge them for it; all because we are in denial of our own despair. We lose all connection to the reality of this lost and broken world and the people in it, just because we don’t want to face our own brokenness. We live a superficial, selfish life of denial because that seems easier than facing our own demons. Empathy is fundamental to living a Christian life! We cannot truly walk with God or others without it. Just as Christ meets us where we are- in our brokenness, in our sadness, and in our grief- we need to meet others in theirs. Just as Christ embraces our suffering, we need to embrace theirs. If you truly desire intimacy and closeness in a world of disconnect and loneliness, then lament your pain, lament your hurt, and lament your sin! Begin a new life of truth and honesty and embrace empathy over selfishness. Be who God designed you to be!
Romans 12:15– “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”