“Lament” - God’s Provision in a Pandemic!

A definition of lament is “Appealing to God for aid and overcoming present calamity.”

With the impact of Covid-19 I have been saddened by little evidence of society or Christian communities calling on God the healer, protector and sustainer of life!

Never in recent history has the world been so confronted with how little control we have over a world that is being pounded by this pandemic, as well as natural disasters, and human disasters resulting from bad stewardship of the creation that God placed in our hands. I imagine God must be grieved by humanity’s rejection of His values, presence, and His offer of salvation for a sin burdened world.

The practice of lament is one of the most theologically informed actions a Christian can take. This important action is confirmed by the fact that in the book of Psalms alone, there are 42 laments brought before God.

Why Lament?

Christian’s lament is essential because our sin, both individually and communally, produces chaos beyond our control. Yet we know God is sovereign and good. Christians know His promises in the Scriptures. We believe in God’s power to deliver. We know the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive!

Laments turns us toward God when fear and sorrow blinds us to God’s presence. Lament is a form of prayer. It is more than just the expression of sorrow or the venting of emotion. Its provision is a divinely given invitation to deal with our fears, anxiety, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence and trust in God.

So, what do we need to do?

Turn to God. Often a lament begins by an address to God: Psalm 13 v 1, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” We can choose to talk to God about what is happening right now!

Bring your complaint. 

Every lament features some kind of complaint: Psalm 13 v 2, “How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Biblical lament humbly and honestly identifies the fear, questions, and anxiety that overtakes us.

Ask with confidence for help. 

Seeking God’s help when troubled is an act of faith: Psalm 13 v 3 – 4, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, I have prevailed over him, lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” The fear of Covid and worldwide upheaval has for many created a deadly silence as we give in to despair (“there’s no hope”) or denial (“everything’s fine”). But lament invites us to dare to hope in God’s promises as we ask for His help.

Choose to trust God.

This is the peace restorer for our laments. Healing is found here: Psalm 13 v 5 – 6, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” Lament is the prayer language for God’s people as we live in a world marred by sin. It is how we talk to God about our fears as we renew our hope in His sovereign care through confession of sin. This prayer language moves us to renew our commitment to trust in God as we journey the brokenness of life. To lament is Christian!

We are all experiencing fear and sorrow. Lament is God’s invitation for dealing with the reality of a broken world and trusting in God’s sovereignty. Lament is a steppingstone as we wait for the day Jesus will return and make everything right. Christians long for God to redeem His world.

Laments interpret the world through a biblical lens. Could I respectfully suggest there is a strong biblical perspective to the current situation we are being confronted by in 2021.

Laments invites us into God’s biblical view of all that is happening in our world. Christians lament because we know about God’s saving plan for creation, redemption, and restoration. We know the cause of all lament is sin. We look forward as we read in Revelation 21:4 to the ending of all laments: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Christians not only mourn the brokenness of the world, but we also long for the day when all weeping will cease.

In conclusion

As Christians we should know that the nature of our personal sin and our sinful world, calls us to a life of repentance, confession, and a return to confidence in our Saviour and Lord.  In this Covid pandemic we should be active partners in God's plans through being participants with sincere lamenters. We should regularly talk to God about our sorrows, fears, and struggles. Christians should learn to lament. The practice of lament is one of the most significant historical tools for successful Christian living and renewal that a person or Christian communities can engage in.

As conveyed clearly in 2 Chronicles 7 v 14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Let us humble ourselves and join the Lament!

Murray Stevenson