Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Hear our cry, Almighty God! How long must we hide our faces beneath these masks and face shields. How long must we speak comfort to our patients through glass windows and mobile devices. Why oh God, have you put us in this dreadful position to separate families and loved ones— a father from their daughters, wives from their husbands. Oh Lord, why have you willed it for some to suffer and die alone, the worst death of all!
Our friends have fallen to illness, some of our colleagues are in critical condition upstairs. We hear of others who have already fallen from from the young to the old. Lord we are overwhelmed! Social media and news networks echo a reverberating desperation all across the world. Our souls are weary from the strain of these life-altering unknowns, these "unprecedented" times.
Heavenly Father, from the depth of this worry and confusion we cry to you. While our hearts are filled with fear and anxiety we plead with you. Sovereign Lord, Father of compassion and full of grace, we lift our eyes, to the One who has said “It is finished… take courage, I have overcome the world… my peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…because I live, you also will live”. Lord nothing is "unprecedented" for you.
Despite this clamor amongst us, you have have blessed us deeply. Remind us of your faithfulness. Remind us of the gift of our training. “For such a time as this” you have called us to be your instruments of healing. Grace us Father yet again to be your instruments to heal the soul, the souls of not just our patients, but of one another.
The days ahead are uncertain, but there has been no shortage of help, resources are on the way, the cheering from the rooftops grow louder, the number of discharges continue to increase. We thank you heavenly Father for this. Lord what we can not provide, you provide. What we can not heal, you heal. Lord what we can not understand, you give purpose to. All life is sacred and precious in your sight. You are the God who sees us and sustains us. No tear is wasted as you wipe them from our eyes. Surround us with peace, restore or souls, give us strength to fight this good fight.
This pandemic has brought lamentation to the forefront. Above I share my own lament, my own cry out to God expressing my sorrow yet leaning into God's faithfulness. This is simply from the perspective of someone who provides care in the ER. Whoever you are, I'm sure you may be feeling the same emotions I have these last several weeks. I'd like to share some truths about the act of lamenting that can regenerate our souls. I like to think of lament as emptying ourselves so God may fill us with living water.
1. Lament is found throughout scripture
In our culture we are pressured to keep a flawless exterior. Sometimes we refuse to acknowledge our hardships in a way the demonstrates how dependent we are on the Lord. Unfortunately it takes something close to a pandemic on an individual level to put that into perspective. The reality is we have a great need for this particular type of expression.
The heroes of the faith are no strangers to struggle and hardship. Flip through the Psalms and you will see moving expressions of anguish and despair. In fact laments make up more than a third of the Psalms! Psalm 13 puts it bluntly: “How long O lord? Will you forget me forever?" Additionally, the mystery of the biblical narrative is that God also laments. Jesus quotes the Psalms on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" Psalm 22:2. Genesis 6:6 shows us that God was grieved to his heart over the wickedness of his creation.
It's okay to lament. Our heavenly Father welcomes it. Do not be afraid, cast your burdens, throw you cares on the Lord, release the weight of your sorrow.
2. Lamenting reorients our heart
Our world is filled with a ton of noise right now. The news is filled with a lot of anger about being woefully unprepared, about resources not being allocated properly, about people not following social distancing recommendations, and about new sparks of blatant racism. It’s so easy to become cynical, to become enraged, and to become frustrated about things we can’t control. On the other hand, I fear that some have just skipped the whole phase of processing grief altogether. They've put on this false guise of having it all together. I fear that all it takes is a family member sick, or seeing your friend being placed on a ventilator to bring this false exterior crashing down. The truth is healthcare workers are NOT superheroes on the frontlines, but we've been called to do the work of superheroes. We are more like soldiers on the frontlines, vulnerable in every way. We still need to wear our helmets and our bullet proof vests. We need to gear up physically and emotionally. We need to lean into our Father who will renew us and strengthen us. His mercies are new every morning!
Honest prayer provide a pathway for us who are hurting to move through pain and doubt. Lamenting is not merely a way to vent and to process grief. It provides us the language and framework to draw us to hope again. As Mark Vroegop from The Gospel Coalition puts it, “Laments are not cul-desacs of sorrow, but conduits for renewed faith"
3. Lamenting renews our trust
In our life there simply is not joy without sorrow. The falleness of our world pretty much guarantees that these two will forever be battling it out until Jesus returns. Rest assured as Christians we know how the biblical narrative ends. We know the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. As we lament we become a people who rejoice over the blessings of God in the midst of confusion. Lament reminds us that God shows up in our difficulties. It moves us to trust in God’s provision and it moves us to a trust in his justice and restoration both in the here and now and in the future to come. Additional Resources on lament that I've found helpful. https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/articles/lament-as-a-pathway-to-hope https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/strong-churches-lanuage-lament/