Hard Is Not Bad, But Hard Is Still Hard
To put it in simplistic terms, this past week has been hard. It has been hard not connecting with my community in person. It has been hard giving up some means of comfort due to stores and restaurants being closed. It has been hard hearing from friends about how this crisis is going to destroy them financially. And for a fast-moving, high output person like me, it has been hard to sit and slow down. But something that the Lord has reminded me of this past week is that hard is not bad, but hard is still hard. I know the truths the Bible gives us in times of suffering and hardship, but how do we get those truths into our hearts without glossing over the pain that we feel?
The Grace of Lament
Let me suggest lament. Lament provides us with a voice to the pain that we feel while also anchoring us in the truths of God’s character and promises. Prayers of lament provide us with an opportunity to pour out our hearts and anchor our hearts in the same moment.
In Lamentations, Jeremiah gives us one of the most encouraging verses in all of scripture:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
- Lamentations 3:22-24
Jeremiah penned these words while looking over the city of Jerusalem when it was sitting in ashes following the invasion of the Babylonians. As Jeremiah looks over his beloved city and the destruction that is in front of him, he says “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases”. It was not a moment of remembrance for Jeremiah, it was a moment of pain that ended in a refined trust in God’s future faithfulness.
When it looks as if God’s faithfulness has come to an end, or that his mercies have ceased, Jeremiah says "no". Despite the utter destruction and chaos in front of him, Jeremiah still says that God is on the throne. Jeremiah pushes his heart toward what he knows to be true despite what he sees with his eyes.
This is what we must do in moments of suffering. We don’t need to bypass the pain of the moment, instead, we should let the pain of the moment move us to remember the everlasting, never-changing promises of our God. Consider spending some time this week praying some biblical prayers of lament like the ones in Psalm 10, Psalm 13, Psalm 22, and Psalm 77.
My hope and prayer is that we will recover the necessary practice of lament, so that we can become a church that suffers well and cares well for the hurting in our midst.
Praying for you all this week!