Learning to Lament When Our Offering to God Involves Pain

Liberation is found in naming.

While reading Aubrey Sampson’s book, “The Louder Song,” I recognized the phrases and rhythms pouring from my lips as lament. The last few years have brought lots of unexpected pain and confusion. At times, it felt as if God had simply forgotten me and my family. The season of  blessings packaged in tangible form seemed to come to an abrupt halt. And, like a child, who cannot read the mind of a parent who sees their condition but does not offer immediate satisfaction to small out stretched arms, I felt disappointed.

These cries from the depths of the heart are often named something else: complaining. However, complaining is often misunderstood. We utter words that communicate our displeasure in an outcome. From human reasoning, it makes no sense. Often, we look for someone or something to blame. Ultimately, we long for someone to understand our pain and acknowledge it.

Complaining becomes a form of lament when God’s character fails to be manifest as expected. We know that people will betray us but God? As Aubrey writes in her book, “To lament is to speak the reality of our formless, chaotic suffering and to ask God to fill it with his very good.” Unlike complaining, our words of anger, despair, and confusion are not thrown randomly into the air but are directed at the One with whom we are upset: our Creator and Lord.

And that’s the rub. At once, feelings of betrayal and hope connect. There would be no reason to direct our words at God if we don’t think he is listening.

The psalms become templates for my laments. The schism between human understanding and holiness is laid bare. I cling to the hope, as the writers did before me, that God is still good; even if I am still learning what goodness means. The lyrics of Tree63’s song “Blessed be Your Name” reiterate what I long to be my practice:
“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there’s pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name”
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2 thoughts on “Learning to Lament When Our Offering to God Involves Pain

  1. Lynne

    I totally get this as I’m going through something now. God was so good to us as a family last year, but recent events have me thinking why on earth is he letting us suffer the way he is. It’s hard to understand. But then without the suffering, we never know when we have a good thing. Thanks for sharing. Your FMF neighbor.


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