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Lament

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.
-Psalm 126:5-6

Lament.  Do we know what lamenting is or how to do lament?  Lament is a response to loss.

Anger and lament are related, but not the same.  Anger is a response to the "ouch", that might be a loss.  We get angry when our feelings are hurt.

But staying angry is bad: it is unhealthy for us and for others that we are in relationship with.  Staying angry disconnects us from everyone, including God and our true selves.  If I can not get over it, can not get past it, I might just need to let it go, forgive, release it, and just move on.  Maybe and maybe not.

There are some people who are out of touch with their anger and have hidden or repressed anger, that influences their lives and has become part of how they live, that is not healthy or functional.  There are anger groups and anger therapies out there, that try to help people with their anger.

One of the funniest things (ironic) psychological therapists have done, to try to heal anger, is called "Bataka Work".  Bataka's are foam bats.  These first came out in 1960's, as far as I know.  Angry people would hit the bat on the floor, on a couch or chair, or on other people, and attempt to release their anger.  Another variation on this was to throw china plates against a wall and call out the anger.

The bottom line is that it does not work.  It is a placebo, at best; but usually just feeds the person's anger and does not resolve it.  If a person has hidden anger and gets in touch with it, maybe that is good, but then what?

Studies were eventually done, and they were printed up in Psychology Journals, and the Bataks disappeared, for a while; but then came back.  We can only speculate why.  Today, you can buy a pair of "Encounter Bats", for $199.99 on Amazon.

If you are a therapist or a counselor, you may have an opinion, perhaps positive about anger therapies that involve violence, even punching pillows and screaming.  I am not against you, if you are a healer.  I just disagree with you.

I believe in grief work, mourning, and healing from God for broken hearts.  I believe in lament.

If I am stuck, I may have work to do.  Something happened to me.  It was probably a loss.  I might try saying, "bleep happens", or "I'll just get over it", or "I forgive everyone", but when I climb up the ladder from the pit I fell into, and things are still not the same, not back to normal.  Things are slow, things are dark.  Maybe I forgot to, or neglected to mourn or do grief-work: saying goodbye, having the funeral, and letting it go; which includes lament.

Bigger losses are not the kinds of things that just get us angry or make us stuck in anger.  They do make us angry, even enraged with anger; but that is just a part or what we need to do to process and heal from the loss.  And when the big loss occurs, in the shock of it, we do feel like we might be angry forever, because the rage is so acute.

Yes, but we will need to heal.  The appropriate response to big losses is grief and mourning, which includes lament.

In his book, Hurting With God, Glenn Pemberton writes that 40% of the Book of Psalms are "lament psalms".

How many songs do we sing that are lament songs?

Negro Spirituals are an  example of lament songs.  When the songs says, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen", it is serious suffering that is being sung about.  There is something lacking today when Christians do not know and sing songs of lament.

If Christians have sadness that is bottled up and not let out in lament, where does it go?  The Biblical worldview is one of suffering.  Suffering was not just for the Old Testament believers, but is part and parcel of the Jesus follower's life.

The gospel actually promises you that you will suffer.  Lament songs are not "downers", but are healing.  God designed us to grieve, to lament, to complain and ask for help.


What does lament mean?
Lament: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  "his mother's night-long laments for his father" 
synonyms: wail, wailing, lamentation, moan, moaning, weeping, crying, sob, sobbing, keening.

Lament: a song, piece of music, or poem expressing sorrow.

Lament: a dirge, requiem, elegy, threnody, monody; keen: "a lament for the dead".

Lament: an expression of regret or disappointment; a complaint: "there were constant laments about the conditions of employment".

Lament: mourn (a person's loss or death): "he was lamenting the death of his infant daughter".

more synonyms: mourn, grieve, sorrow, wail, weep, cry, sob, keen, beat one's breast: "the mourners lamented".

Lament: express one's deep grief about: express regret or disappointment over something considered unsatisfactory, unreasonable, or unfair: "she lamented the lack of shops in the town".

more synonyms: bemoan, bewail, complain about, deplore, rue; protest against, object to, oppose, fulminate against, inveigh against, denounce: "he lamented the modernization of the buildings".
When Psalm 126 says, "Those who sow in tears", it is talking about people who have cried.  The whole psalm is about restoration.  But, it was a given that folks had mourned, grieved, and lamented; because it was a part of their culture, that we can see, just by browsing through Psalms 1 to 125.

About 40% of The Psalms are laments.  Why?  Because life is filled with loss and we need to process those loses.
"Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy."
That sounds paradoxical.  It is.  Believers, faithful ones, or followers of the Lord; have scars where life has hurt them, but they are filled with a depth of joy.

"Let me see your scars", is something that should be a staple of Christian community and communitas.

Many believers have wrestled with things, before the Lord, and some have wrestled with the Lord; and have a limp, for life.  We have fallen on the rock and been broken.

I come from a family that did not lament, that did not grieve and mourn well.  I imagine that there were many funerals that we were invited to that we did not attend, in my childhood.

I did not start learning about healing through gracious grief, until I was an adult.  When I did not know how to grieve, the Lord was gently shepherding me; and one of the things I did was to fill notebooks with pages of lament and go for long walks and just ponder.

I know that 'meditate' is a bad word for some believers, but one of my favorite verses is the one where it says that Isaac was out in the field at twilight time, meditating, when he saw the camel train coming in the distance, that contained his wife (Gen. 24:63).

Looking back, I have had the experience of doing 'lament walks', 'lament talks', and writing my laments.  I do believe in the value of journaling!  It is funny that no one taught me to journal.  I journaled as a kid, and when I got in touch with some pain, as a young adult, I filled stacks of them with what?  Lament.

A bridge grew in my life of my pain and God's love.  I met God in my grief, sorrow, agony, and emptiness.  Out of my pain, that I expressed in lament, came God's life.

I smiled so much that people noticed.  I reaped a harvest of joy.  I have experienced loss and jaw-dropping restoration.  I know what it is like to feel low and go through the grief, mourning, and lamenting; then to come out and into a new space, that I did not know existed.

But, the thing is, I became transformed and was a different person.

And so it goes, over and over.  Life is cyclical, a process, with seasons.  Lament is a part of the full life.

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