Are you a complainer? I am. I actually think I am too good and too experienced at it. I am a well-practiced whiner and critic. I struggle with this part of my makeup.
If you are like me in this area, I have some news for you. This, like all things, is worked together for good by the God who loves us and gave Himself for us.
The Lord allows room for our complaints. Lament is something that God encourages us to do. He knows that we are dust. He fully understands our makeup. He’s quite aware of the things we think and feel.
Lament and complaint are really forms of meditation. We think. We ponder. We imagine. The uncomfortable and troublesome things weigh heavily upon us. We give our minds over to them and we need ways of escape.
Have you ever had it up to here with something or someone? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you didn’t know what to do?
God shows us the ways of release. More the 40 percent of the songs and hymns contained in the book of Psalms are devoted to the right practice of lament.
Some of these writings push beyond lament to what’s known as imprecation. That last term could be described as songs to sing, or prayers to pray when you wish someone really gets what you think they deserve. They are songs you may sing when you think you want someone dead. Seriously. Check out Psalm 109 and the strong language used in relation to the enemies of this writer.
Cry Out, Pour Out
Psalm 142 gives us a brief, but clear example of the practice of lament. “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I showed him my trouble” (Psalm 142:1-2)
Lament recognizes the reality of life on earth. It doesn’t ignore it. It faces it head on and shows us where to take our stuff.
The verbs in these opening verses are strong verbs. The psalmist “cried” and “poured out” his feelings. Instead of venting to people, he dumped his issues before the Lord.
This is a habit we would all do well to learn. Only God can handle the knowledge of good and evil, as was made very clear in Genesis 3. Once, Adam and Eve entered into that realm of information, they could only run and hide.Lament recognizes the reality of life on earth. It doesn’t ignore it. It faces it head on and shows us where to take our stuff. Click To Tweet
The truth is that human beings are fallen, broken creatures in need of measureless mercy that comes only through Christ. Writer Francis Spufford described the “crack in everything” as the “undeniable human propensity” to fall and fail. Men and women possess sin natures that expose themselves in big and small ways each and every day. This we must accept as reality. It cannot be avoided in this present cosmic atmosphere.
But there is another reality, the one of hope, the one that points us to the new world to come. A day is promised to us, a day when Christ shall return and set things right as He established His rule over all Creation. A New Jerusalem shall come from Heaven to earth. It will be a city all square and full of the presence of the Lord.
Keep Hope Alive
The Bible presents two great lamenters – Job and Jeremiah. They were men who lived amidst much trouble. Did they keep this trouble to themselves? They did not. They poured out their complaints. They cried to the Lord. They demanded that He answer them. And He did answer them. And He used them mightily.
As you read of these men in the Word, notice what was at the center of their hearts. Yes, they did make a lot of noise. They emptied out their hearts with vigor and honesty. They held nothing back.
Job, though wounded, frustrated, and accused, still held on to the integrity of this truth: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25). He kept this in mind, even as he saw God as dismissing him. He knew that the eternal Redeemer would come down and stand up for His own.
Jeremiah, a prophet who was largely ignored and much abused, was responsible for Lamentations, a collection of funeral songs. He sang these as he watched his people destroy themselves in idolatry and disobedience.
At the center of this collection, however, we read some of the most gracious and powerful words in the all the Bible: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:21-25).
These are words we must speak in the midst of our complaining. This picture of God must be held fast. This truth is the reality of comfort that comes from above. This reality answers the reality of the disasters in this realm.
Let’s pour out our souls before Him, yes. And let us hold fast to His mercies, for faithful and true is our Redeemer who shall soon rule and reign.