I have a number of news apps on my phone. The notifications are set so that I can easily be updated to breaking news, but if I can be honest, lately I’ve grown weary of my news notifications. Every day, if not every week, there is a new conflict — a war across the pond, another Black man shot and killed, Asian Americans targeted and murdered, in-fighting between Christian groups, hate-filled rhetoric against immigrants and more. I’m tired of people finding new ways to fight and kill each other. The age-old sin of Cain killing Abel, of brother spilling another brother’s blood, spins on a wheel repeating itself ad nauseam. There is nothing new under the sun.
That being said, there is something unique about the past two years and about life in a pandemic that has brought the suffering and brokenness of the world into sharp relief. Viral videos and a heightened engagement with our phones and social media has inundated our minds and our brains with new levels of hate, seeping through the cracks of humanity’s façade. We are more than two years into a pandemic, and it feels like there is more to grieve now than ever before.
Grief and lament, in fact, are two words that best describe my prayers these days. Most of my time spent with God is in tears over the things that divide us — the way humans war against each other, broken relationships between parents and children, and the slander Christians so easily throw at each other. I know that the way things are are not the way they were meant to be. We were created to experience the goodness and wholeness of God, and yet our realities are far from this truth. Just watch a nightly news feed and you’ll see there is much to lament in the world.
For a long time, I thought the heaviness in my heart and the lament on my lips meant I didn’t have hope in God. That, somehow, being grieved and burdened by the weight of the world’s brokenness meant I wasn’t trusting Him enough to make all things new. But what I’ve learned in recent years is that my lament can be a practice of hope.
Lamenting in prayer until tears stream from my eyes is one way of clinging to God when nothing seems to make sense.
God beckons us to offer up a persistent cry to Him. In return, He promises that one day, all our suffering, even the sins of this world, will be no more. A day is coming when we will all be made whole again and the cycles of violence that destroy families, start wars, and wreak racism will be broken forever. This is why it states in Jeremiah 9:20,
You women, hear the word of the LORD; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament.
When our hearts ache and our souls yearn for what was lost in the Garden and what will one day be restored again in the new heavens and the new earth, we stay rooted in the hope of God in the midst of brokenness.
Our lament is a sacred testament to God’s promises. Our lament is our hope in a better future — a better future that only God can create.
Choosing to come before the Lord and lay the burdens of the world at His feet is a reminder that God is in control and that He will deliver and redeem us in His sovereign time. We can pray like the psalmist in Psalm 102:1-2, “Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.” Then we wait in hope and anticipation, knowing that God hears our cries and will answer us.
So, let’s make space for lament today. The next time you hear disheartening news, the next time you witness a fight or division break out, turn to God in lament. Carve out space to pray, to grieve, even to cry. And let your lament be your declaration of hope in God in the midst of hard things.