A Prayer of Lament
Did you know that 40% of the Psalms are filled with lament? Lament is something we often skip over, but I believe lamenting in our Christian faith is so important. Lamenting is about engaging God with the suffering in life. With heavy hearts, we can make our pains and troubles known to God. Most of the time lament is quickly glossed over and our focus shifts to only praise. Grief/sorrow are directly tied to joy as well. They are not sequential, meaning one happens and then the other happens. They happen simultaneously.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” - 1 Peter 1:3–6
Our joy does not die when sorrow occurs.
As stated above, “in this you rejoice, although you have been grieved”. Joy comes in the morning and the mourning. I think of when my grandfather passed, our family was grieved. There was not a dry eye at his funeral and our hearts were sad and heavy processing through the loss, but there was also such joy knowing that he knew Jesus. While our hearts ached, his body no longer did. In the midst of sorry, there are great moments of joy. It is in my lamenting that I have seen God meet my grieved heart.
A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on racial reconciliation and the church at the Center for Racial Reconciliation in Monrovia. The day was filled with learning about systems of injustice and exploring systematic racism from a biblical context in order to discern strategies for reconciliation. It was a heavy day but the crux of the Gospel calls us to love God and love others. There is a quote by Edmund Burke that says, “An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to remain silent.” Towards the end of the day after all our learning, we were asked to pray and write a prayer or journal through the lament of what we had learned and how our hearts were grieved.
Here are my words from that day:
My Prayer of Lament
Where do I begin… for have I forsaken your name for not engaging in the conversation-
But yet I shout Amen from the church on Sundays.
Confused and heartbroken- where do I begin-
From man to woman, from me to you-
How do I reconcile- its so much more than black or white.
Help me to not stay silent yet claim to be ally.
Torn between my own two races.
From the skin color I did not choose, claims over you.
For each time I win, you seem to lose.
My behavior acts as white savior- yet still I’m filled with guilt.
Where do I begin…
When will I stop apologizing for the words I didn’t intend,
For they do not help you mend-
Unfiltered and lacking apathy-
The words they slip out quickly- for laughter or relevance.
Help me to listen,
For healing begins from within.
I yearn and ask for your Spirit to welcome me in and help me to,
Let the conversation begin
My prayer is that you would lament, that you would make your sorrow known and also know that joy is still present.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Don’t be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:4–7