Over one-third of the book of Psalms are filled with psalms of lament, crying out to God to help us. In fact, the word lament connotes raw, honest emotion with no pretense and literally means “to tear the hair and beat the breast.” When you lament you let it all out; you wail from a deep, guttural place.
When I think of lament, I can’t help but think of the people who were the first lamenters, Adam and Eve. Imagine with me for a moment that you’re happy and free, living in a beautiful place with interesting creatures and foods, and each morning you wake up and discover something new. To top it off, you get to spend personal time with God who made you, who created you into existence with His very breath. Life is good.
But then one day, because of one choice, one decision made against what your Father had warned you about, your once innocent, shame-free eyes are opened, and nothing is the same. You and your husband lose everything you know.
Can you hear the wailing from outside the garden?
And just when you thought the awful beginning was over, just as you settled into a new way of life that involved the skin of dead animals, the pain of seeing your husband struggle, the ugliness of weeds surrounding you constantly, the agony of childbirth, the fear of what might hunt you in the middle of the night, your one son murders your other son, and in that act you lose both of them — one to death and one to banishment.
How could you, God? No more, no more! It’s too much, and I am overtaken.
Raw. Honest. Prayerful.
There is blessing in lament. Lament frees us to feel and process grief. It could be the grief from the death of a loved one, a baby gone to heaven too soon, the loss of a relationship or the loss of what we should have had from a mom or dad but didn’t get. Or it could be the loss of a dream or life not being what you thought it would be or the loss of something stolen from you, from your body and your soul through a violation.
Whatever it is, God calls us through the many examples of lament in the Scriptures to cry out to Him. He knows that when you cry out, you allow pain to do its work. Remember, God made tears and the ability to wail. Once the lament has worked all the way through, you will have some relief. You will have freedom. And you will even experience joy, even if some of your earthly needs go unmet.
The Scriptures tell us that godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10), that those who mourn will be blessed (Matthew 5:4), that God binds up our wounds and heals our broken hearts (Psalm 147:3), and that the pain won’t last forever. When godly sorrow has done its work as surrender to the Holy Spirit and follow onto that healing path, joy will come (Psalm 30:5).
God can handle your lament, your raw emotion, your fears and doubts and confusion and anger, depression, and plain old sadness. He is a God we can relate to, as He also has feelings and emotions, ones of sadness and anger, grief and lament. We are formed of His breath, and we breathe out the emotions He gave us to use and feel and process and pay attention to.
Lament is a gift. Allowing ourselves to vulnerably acknowledge and face the pain in our lives, big or small, sets us on the path of healing.
When we believe God, when we trust that He has our best interests in mind, that He wants to heal us and help us, guide us and deliver us, that He has redemption in store, we can have the confidence to cry out the stuff that’s under the surface or flailing on top of it screaming to be seen and heard.
That secret you have that you don’t think you can tell anyone about? You can. You can tell it to a safe person because you are safe in Christ and you cannot lose your identity in Him or your place as His beloved daughter.
That miscarriage you had that still locks you up inside, the one everyone thinks you should be over by now? Cry out. Cry out to the God who loves you so much and cries with you and holds your sorrows and keeps your tears in a bottle and records each day of sorrow in His book (Psalm 56:8). He sees you even when others don’t understand. Let Him be your comfort, and if you are willing, tell someone the truth about the lingering pain.
That depression you’re hiding, thinking it will get better? You can tell someone, and you can seek relief — it’s okay. God uses all sorts of ways to help our hearts and our minds and our bodies when they’re sick, whether physically or mentally or emotionally. Here, I’ll go first: I take anxiety medication. I am secure in God’s love for me and that He led me to get help. I praise Him for His gentle leading and kindness toward my fallen brain!
Or how about that affair you’re having or on the verge of having or the fact that you’re toeing the line and you know it, but you think you can handle it? CRY OUT. Cry out to God and be honest that it feels good but it’s so not okay. Cry out to a safe person, someone who will tell you the truth and love you through it all. Shoot, I’m going to go ahead and say, tell your husband! It’s not fun, but the freedom in a clear conscience before God and others is better than any consequence you can imagine.
I could list so many things, but you know your thing, I don’t have to tell you. It’s on the edge of your mind right now. And like I said, big or small, if it’s a thing, cry out and get it out. Don’t let it grow bitter or fester or find other ways of infiltrating your life that aren’t welcome.
And if you’re not sure what is keeping you from freedom, if you know something is going on because you’re so angry or (fill in the blank) but can’t pinpoint it, pray the following prayer and then just sit with it, be curious and alert to what God may be trying to show you, and wait:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)
He is a God we can relate to. -@sarahmae: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This post truly spoke to me. I just came through a rough weekend of lamenting. The anxiety and depression were rearing their ugly heads and that didn’t help me in coping with other life issues. I was a train wreck. Even though I take medication that keeps my fallen brain in check, usually, there are times of break through. I think I just needed to get all the pain out. God did give us tears for a reason. There is something holy and cathartic in pouring your heart out before God. He knows before we even utter a word what is on our mind and heart. He loves us dearly and He catches every tear that falls. Praise for a Father who draws near (doesn’t run away) in our times of anguish. Thank you for this beautiful post…
Beth Williams says
Praying for you sweet sister. God knows your pain & He will send His healing to you. Praying you have a better week this week & fewer relapses. May you feel His comforting arms around you.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
You are a sweetheart!!
Thankful for you,
Thank you so much for this post and encouragement. It was much needed! Bev’s response was my weekend exactly (I feel you, sister!). A tough one for me as well. Some days it feels like I can’t fight any longer. Will I ever overcome the depression and anxiety? And even though my precious and patient husband has been my go-to in my lamenting, he can only comfort me so much. Some family or friends don’t want to hear about my depression and anxiety. They say “just push through” or “snap out of it!”. Thank God He is the One and only who will listen, let us wail and weep and understand. He allows me as long as I need to lament! He never grows weary of listening to me!! God bless all my sisters in Christ who are faced with these seasons (or what feels like a lifetime) of lament! He sees and hears and one day whether it be here on Earth or at home in heaven, we WILL find the true healing and peace we are seeking! Praise God for His promises!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’m so sorry that you had a lamenting weekend as well. I have found that anxiety and depression are like the thorn in Paul’s side. He asked the Lord to remove it several times, but that’s when the Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient. Many times I have wished that I didn’t have to deal with this. Thankfully, due to medications, I can keep it somewhat in check, but I know having it has made me a much more compassionate person than I would be otherwise. It has helped me to learn that God’s grace is sufficient. Praying for you sweet sister. Just be the helpless lamb in the strong and comforting arms of our Savior. That’s how I picture myself when I’m hurting. You are loved!!
Mildred Morris says
Amen. Thank you for this message. I’m stuck in this online relationship that has caused me so much pain. I have cry out to God to help me let go or give me strength to stay,
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Mildred I will pray you do what God says is right for you. That you do what pslam 128 verse 1 says. Plus listen to his Holy Spirit for guidness.. To know what to. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Everything my heart needed to hear this morning. Especially as I sat with my 12 year old last night and we talked about how her heart was hurting so after the loss of a precious grandmother and all the changes that being 12 brings a girl. Such great biblical reminders for me to share. Thank you.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
There is a world out there that needs Jesus. People crying in sadness. Because they have lost loves ones. From a Child to an Adult taking their own lives. People crying because their loves ones Children and Adults been told they have cancer. They are not going to get better. Doctors and no treatment will make them well. People taking Drugs and addicted to Drink and can’t do with out it. People with Depression. This list go on and on. We as your people Jesus have cry on you in prayer for theses people. Not judge them. Be thankful if we are not like this and that we are alive today to see another day in your
Beautiful World. We are saved know Jesus as our Saviour. Not talk about theses people. PRAY for them and for their families and what they are going through. That they will find Jesus. As Jesus would want us to PRAY for them. Keep praying for them. Plus pray for the people who are trained to council theses people and help them come of the Drugs and Drink. Plus with Depression. As their job not an easy one plus pray for Doctors and Nurses caring for thoes with cancer. As we tend to forget about them. Just pray for the People and Kids with Cancer. The people with Drink problems and Drugs problems and Depression. Also need our Prayers. When God gave us people like this to help theses people get the help they need. Remember God does here our PRAYERS he will answers them. As it says in Psalm 126 verse 5v The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad. Let us be glad we can pray for things like thing. Excellent reading. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
I just signed up for the daily devotionals and what a gift that this is the 1st one I receive! Thank you, dear child of God! You are a blessing to my heart! I’m printing this out. I’m going to boldly share it with my in-laws in their late 80s.
This message met me right where I am and ministered to my very soul. Thank you for being a willing vessel.
Beth Williams says
Such wisdom in this post. So true that lamenting our problems/pains to God will help. David did it so often in the Psalms. Satan has us to believe that past mistakes nullify God’s love for us. Not so. God loves us & understands that we are merely flawed humans. Cry out to God in anguish. Tell Him all about your trials. Let the tears fall-that is part of the healing process. When my aging dad was hospitalized with severe dementia I cried to God often. Asking Him to just take dad. Don’t let him live like this. Several times I would sit in the hospital lobby just crying to God. Once I called a few people & got my anguish out I was ok to drive home. It seemed to calm my nerves a little. This world is so full of bitterness, pain & hatred. We as Christians need to find relief. That comes in trusted friends & God. He along with the Holy Spirit can heal our broken places. Then we can show the world how to seek their own healing.
Hi, thank you so much for your article. I’ve looked for a word that describes the physical and emotional feelings for 60 years. Lament describes so clearly the depth that God reaches into my soul and demands release of these physical feelings in my body along with the rage and depth of sorrow deep inside. It seems that He has to tear me open to reach into the depths of my soul, to remove the feelings and set me free for Him to be able to fill me up with the sweetest, most accepting, and caring love I’ve ever experienced. God bless each of you. Laurel
Karen Knowles says
Such a powerful post, Sarah Mae! Thanks to all the sisters who made additional comments that were pertinent. May the Lord help us to receive healing so that we can be used as ministers of healing in this broken and needy world.
I desperately needed to hear these words and scripture today. Thank you.
Theresa Boedeker says
This is beautiful and so true. If we don’t process our grief and lament, how do we process those painful emotions and move to a healthier place? It is not always pleasant to lament, but when we do talk to God and trusted friends, we feel so much better and are not then trying to hide our feelings or run from them. Thanks for encouraging us to process and lament.
Rev John Omollo Obura says
Have been blessed with exposition
Linda Stoll says
For sure. No truer words were spoken.
I finally got honest with my online community today.
I did Jesus and those who care about me a great disservice by waiting so long …