“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3)
A year ago I did a multi-post blog on the art the lament, the first of which was entitled: “Sometimes You Just Have To Go Ahead and Cry.” Recently, since I summarized those posts in a message for a church in the Bay Area, I thought I’d share that primer here.
I find that biblical lament is a tough theme for many and it’s not commonly considered in many Evangelical circles. I confess that as a pastor, unless it came up in a study through the Psalms or Jeremiah, I hardly gave it any notice. But I truly believe that Christians should cry more; if not actually cry, feel the pain that God feels for the mess we’ve made of our world. Continue reading →
I cry more than most people, men and women alike, more than some children. Lately I’ve been crying even more than I used to. It’s not senility… Umm, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I cry a lot. It seems like the only thing one can do about all the sin, sickness, and suffering in our world. Human history has probably always been this tragic and I just didn’t notice it before. To be honest, I didn’t really want to notice. It’s not that I’m depressed about it or thinking about leaving the faith or anything. I think something has begun to break loose inside, something good and maybe something bad. I have to say that in tandem with this sorrow, stemming from some deep place inside, there’s a joy and a trust that I can certainly take no credit for or attribute to employing some lost and recently found spiritual discipline. It just is, and I’m grateful for it.Not all tears are created equally. They come in an assortment of stripes and during a variety of situations. There are attention-getting tears and tears of self-pity, neither of which are the best of tears. I’ve cried enough of them myself to know that they don’t yield their desired results. Then there are tears of repentance and others of joy. I recommend both of those at their appropriate times. Still there others shed in grief, uncertainty, confusion, fear, and best of all, empathy. Though are clearly modeled and recommended by the biblical poets and prophets as both therapeutic and effectual. Continue reading →
Are deeper joy than smiles.FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER
I confess that out of all the worship songs I’ve written, not one of them could be considered a lament, you know, of the book of Lamentations sort. It’s certainly not because I’m an incorrigibly cheerful guy and never have anything to cry about. I guess it just never occurred to me that sorrowful songs fit very well into my worship experience. But if you think about it, the Bible’s longest book – a songbook no less – is replete with hymns a significant portion of which tilt toward the mournful. Continue reading →
“Let the tears roll like a river, day and night,and keep at it—no time-outs. Keep those tears flowing!”Lamentations 2:18 (The Message Bible)
A friend of mine had just come from visiting a church’s worship service when I asked him what he thought. He was complimentary of the gathering as a whole but made one provocative comment that I haven’t been able to shake now for weeks. He said, “The theme of all their songs was happiness and triumph. Whatever happened to the lament in worship?” He went on to say that he wouldn’t vote for doing away with songs of joy and victory in our worship then added that he has observed a distinct dearth of the dirge in our modern way of relating to God.
I think the reason it stays suck in my craw is that for months now I have been studying the book of Jeremiah and his follow-up acrostic poem called “Lamentations.” That’s right, there’s a whole book in the Bible about lamenting! Its author, the “Weeping Prophet” routinely wailed over the spiritual and social condition of his people, conditions not at all unlike those of our own day.
The sin of the people, the cruelty of the wicked, the giddy indifference of the everyday crowd-all this was a deep wound in Jeremiah. He hurt because he cared. … He felt in his own being all the aching hurt of unrequited love. God’s message, he also felt the rejection in every bone and muscle. Their blasphemies cut him; their clumsy rebellions bruised him; their thoughtless rituals salted his open wounds. Eugene H. Peterson in Run With the Horses