Last week I shared my feelings with you. Not my sugar-coated, this has all been so fun feelings. But my sincere acknowledgement that some days have been hard. Some days have gone well, and sweet family memories were made. But other days everyone’s emotions have run high, and things have been….interesting…to say the least.
Now I want to turn to scripture to examine what we can do with all those “feels”— all those spiraling feelings.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, there is a poetic style of writing that shows up again and again when God’s people need to lay out their pain. They are songs of sorrow called “lament.” It shows up in books like Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Lamentations, and the minor prophets. Nearly a third of the Psalms are songs of lament. In these you will find a pattern of protest, petition, and praise. The authors lay out their sorrow to the Lord, then ask the Lord for help, and finally you will see an attitude of praise or trust based on their knowledge of what they know to be true of God.
In Psalm 22, King David, described as one after God’s own heart, but no stranger to pain, writes:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
By night, and am not silent.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed….
You who fear the Lord, praise him!…
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
David presents his brokenness and humanity to the Lord, and with the frequency at which it appears in scripture, it does not seem to be something God frowns upon. In psalms such as chapters 13, 88, and 102, David asks the Lord to hear his cry, answer him, and restore him. Also take note at how David reflects on Israel’s history for assurance that his Lord is still to be trusted. If this same God was able to part the sea and provide food in the desert, surely David can trust him now.
A few years back I heard a sermon on lament where a pastor from Detroit referenced the 3 Rules of the Dysfunctional Family.
- Don’t feel
- Don’t talk
- Don’t trust
Lament, on the other hand, teaches us to feel, to talk, and to trust. Lament teaches us to bring our anxiety, our confusion, our questions, and our despair to God, rather than running away and withdrawing from him. It teaches us just how healthy it can be to cry out to God and lay out all that emotion; all those feels.
The key however, is not ending the conversation after “feel” and “talk.” We don’t merely unload and walk away. That’s when we remember the character of the God we serve. We remember that he is good and compassionate and just. We remember all the times in our lives he has already proved faithful. And because we can be confident in who he is, we can trust, even when we’re still in the waiting; the pain; the unknown. We choose to be like the psalmists, who take time to lament but ultimately choose to trust.
The truth is, we could probably each write our own song of lament at this point in time. We’ve all lost something. We’re all grieving. Whether it’s senior years, class trips, end-of-year goodbyes to our students, or sports seasons. Sisters’ weekends, family vacations, baby showers, or weddings. Maybe it’s lost wages and layoffs, postponed doctor’s appointments, hugging loved ones, or a sense of security……and maybe even your sanity.
While we wait in this unknown of how long and how bad, we can lean in to our Heavenly Father. On the especially bad days, we can accept those emotions and offer them up in petition. And then we can rest in the knowledge of a sovereign God who is big enough to handle both our feelings and this heartbreaking situation. We can echo the heart of David when he says,
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
-Psalm 13: 5-6
And we can rest in the knowledge that we serve a God who is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)
As for me, I’ve gotten it all out. I’ve had my moment and accepted the situation at hand (as much as one can, I suppose). I’ve asked the Lord for discernment and to help me bring a sense of peace to my little people at home. And I’ve raised up the white flag on homeschool. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in my household. But with what now looks like a lengthy stretch that my children will be out of school, it’s what is needed right now. So by golly, if I have to homeschool, I’ll at least do it well.
Let’s continue to pray for each other. Let’s continue to feel the emotional ups and downs and not feel ashamed. Let’s continue to extend grace. Let’s continue to talk to one another and to our God. And always, always, let’s continue to trust him to carry us through. ❤
Grace and peace to you all this week,