In April, I heard these words at a funeral:
“What we have here is utterly and completely broken.”
It’s hard to sit with grief. It’s messy. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. Too often we push past it to get to the happy-clappy ending. I think that’s why those words have played over and over in my head for the past three months.
Give me the framable take-away. What’s the lesson we learn from the pain? I grasp for a lovely theological bow to wrap around it. I want to gaze at the bow. But maybe, at this moment, right now, we need something different. What I need– what you need– is to feel the grief. Eventually, we’ll get around to “In all things God works for the good of those who love him. . .” Today, it’s good to grieve what is utterly and completely broken.
I’ve been reading Surprised By Paradox: The Promise of And in an Either-Or World. The author quotes Dan Allender and Tremper Longman in describing lament as “howling prayer”. She goes on to say, “… lament is a confession of faith.”
Yesterday, as I took my daily (sometimes twice-daily) walk around our neighborhood, I listened to a podcast that said some very similar words. With the same message coming from multiple sources, days apart, I decided to pay attention. The podcast was The Place We Find Ourselves by Adam Young. In this episode about lament, he says this:
“It takes more faith and trust to take our sorrow to God than it does to push down what we are actually feeling.” He goes on to talk about Job and lay out how expressing lament is an indication that we believe in God. Think about that. If you didn’t believe in a good and sovereign God, you wouldn’t have reason to feel crushed by the weight of a broken world.
You can hold both deep faith and deep hurt. You can’t have one without the other.
A howling prayer is a powerful expression of faith.
The Psalms are full of honest, angry, heart-broken, confused prayers.
I’m sitting in this season of lament right now. With little trouble, I can count a handful of friends who, for one reason or other, are also in a season of lament. A dream died and it hurts.
I took a screenshot of a quote from someone whose words have been a source of insight over the last 6 months: “Our lives can be shattered in a single moment. It’s normal to want instant repair.” I had typed this comment underneath the screenshot:
“Is a new creation coming? It is.”
Those are lyrics penned by Andrew Peterson. They are true, but I can’t help but notice that I felt the need to press ahead, past the shattering, to the happy ending.
Is a new creation coming? Yes.
Today, though, this creation is broken and I’m going to lament that.