“My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?” Psalm 6:3
We need help. Our city of Kirksville, our nation, our world–we all need help. Darkness is nothing new. I shouldn’t be surprised by shootings or suicides or abortions. But I’ve never been so broken by other people’s hurt until today. I’ve prayed often for God to break my heart for what breaks His. This morning, He answered me. I couldn’t tell you how or why except that He wanted me to at once be more like Him and be more human. He led me into a place of weeping for those who feel so tortuously lonely.
What does this have to do with Lifeline, and with all of you? Everything. Whether it’s a life taken by abortion or by a gunman, we should be shaken by it. Those of us invested in this ministry dedicated to “sharing compassion, changing lives” must rise up. Sometimes that rising up means taking part in something utterly biblical: lament.
Axis’ Cultural Translator describes lament as “the visceral, public announcement that things are not right and refusing to be silent about it… It’s Israel moaning in Egypt, Rachel weeping for her children, and Job sitting alone with his potsherds. It means summoning God, expecting Him to act, and then joining Him in that action.” Read your Bible, and you’ll find your Sunday School heroes practicing lamentation. Not to mention, there’s a whole book on it. Do we still practice this today?
Lamentation doesn’t mean ranting and complaining on social media or at the office because it’s darkly fun to be bitter. No, lamentation requires humility, honesty, and compassion. The psalmist weeps, “LORD my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands–if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe–then let my enemy pursue and overtake me,” (Psalm 7:4-5). Lamentation pleads for justice and mercy, regardless of who’s to blame, even if it’s ourselves who need rebuke. This ancient practice pulls us deeper into the creatures God made us to be: His own image bearers who both sing from delight and wail from despair. When we allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of emotions, we explore more of the heart of our Creator.
Where does God stand amongst this chaos? In the middle of it all. He does not just experience the turbulence of one community, or one nation. He’s in the eye of every dark, violent hurricane from eternity past to eternity future. Our LORD has witnessed–and not just witnessed, but endured–every heartache ever. And God laments. “Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return. I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right,” (Jeremiah 8:9).
If we call ourselves partners in Abundant Life, we must step up and lament when life is crushed. If we want to tune ourselves closer and closer to our LORD’s desires, we must cry out our bellowing “Why?” and “How long?” as the psalmist and God Himself do. Let us as a community lament together. If you don’t know where to start, we at Lifeline invite you to join us. Sometimes, our mission to be a part of God’s redemption plan looks like just being together and giving voice to the hurts of the voiceless all around us–moms, dads, babies, teens. If you haven’t already, please join us in our 40 Days for Lifeline prayer campaign as we cry out to our LORD for the deliverance of all His creation.
By Kathryn Crane