What do you do when the world crashes down, horribly and unfairly, around you?
Ginny Owens asks this question in her book Singing in the Dark. She notes:
Instead of giving our pain over to God, we shut out the noise of what is wrong and broken. We turn to entertainment or busyness or substances. We do not go to God, perhaps because we do not know how. We are confused by why a good God would allow horrible atrocities, and we don’t know how to talk to Him about it. Or we write off tragedies as simply another of God’s great mysteries. And we dismiss our aching souls and drown out our nagging questions with the drone of daily life. (166)
That’s me. Is it you? I ask hard questions. Often. Sometimes I don’t want to talk with God because I don’t really know how. I can’t pretend the questions aren’t there. He knows.
Do you have questions that make it hard for you to pray?
The drone of daily life is so familiar and unrelenting – being swept away by it works pretty well as a pain-and-question-numbing strategy. I succumb to it all the time.
Ginny, the author I quoted above, suggests that we give ourselves space for lament – not something our culture says much about, but essential for the soul. Ginny says, “The song of lament is one we must sing on our way to hope. Authentic joy rarely comes until we have allowed ourselves to taste true sorrow.” (167)
It’s not about getting answers. It’s about making space for grief. What have you lost? A loved one? Your health? A dream? Hope?
Lament. Do it with me. Intentionally.
We’re not just going to get broody together. It’s not about being melancholy and indulging in sweets for a couple of hours. We’re going to quiet ourselves. Light a candle. Turn on some soft, soothing music. Let’s unwrap our hurt in this safe space that we’ve created. Let God see your pain and sorrow and disappointment. Allow yourself to feel it.
Not in a void, though. In the safety of God’s presence. He is good. We believe that. He loves us. We know this. He hears us when we cry. He cares. So we weep – or – at very least, we take time to let ourselves feel.
Ginny is a blind, Christian singer, living on her own in New York City. She recalls the story of Jesus weeping over the death of a loved one (Lazarus) and she says:
This gives me hope in my lamenting. Whether in the loss of someone close, in the frustration of my disability, or in the times when God seems so far away, I know He loves me. I know He loves those whose suffering I’m weeping over. And not only that, but He Himself came to earth to experience the agony of death and to weep with us.
God With Us.
That’s why moving through Advent intentionally matters. God With Us is a big deal.
We are not alone. You are not alone. Isn’t that what you long for most? Someone who won’t let you down? Someone you can trust? Someone who will love you when you’re cranky, ugly and have nothing to offer?
Ours is the God who comes.
He doesn’t leave us hanging. Ever.