What have I been up to this summer? I went across the globe to serve Jesus and learn about His justice in Cambodia. I moved to a new city and traveled around NC, KY, and IN to visit the best of friends. I’ve asked God some pretty hard questions and I’ve cried a lot. It’s been a summer of trying to understand why loss & grief cut so deep. A summer of diving headfirst into the brokenness of the world, in the lives around me, and the hardest of all – myself.
As I prepared to move about two weeks ago, it was hard to find someone to help. I couldn’t help but think about my Pawpaw and how it wouldn’t be a problem if he were still here. He would have piled my furniture into his pickup truck and not complain once about the three flights of stairs to my apartment. He would have made a joke about how he failed the first grade, but would then say that my future students won’t fail. I can only hope that I have made him proud. I thought time would eventually heal my grief over losing my strong man, but honestly, each time I think about him – the reality that he’s gone hits me like a truck. Putting off processing death is not something I recommend. You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. It happened.
The middle of August marks a year since we lost him. I spent some time in Boone a few weeks ago and for some reason, the pain hit one night there. I cried alone and got angry at God for taking my Pawpaw earlier than I ever saw coming. I asked the Lord, WHY? I fought and questioned my life and purpose. I asked why there was so much pain in our world. I cried and told Him again of my holy frustrations about injustice. I asked why life seems like a roller coaster ride of more bumps of pain than peaks of joy.
And even though I didn’t get any answers and I didn’t really sleep, I felt some peace after this fight with God.
Our unanswerable questions to the Lord can also be described as lament. To be quite honest, I didn’t know what true lament looked like until this year. Lament is defined as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Many of the Psalms have been described as lament to God. The psalmists are crying out to Him for answers. They are asking the hard questions. They are seeking comfort. We do the same thing when we lament.
Our confusion, sorrow, and pain do not surprise God. I believe that God wants to hear whatever is troubling our hearts. He does not just want us to talk to Him in moments of thanks. He wants to hear when we are upset and consumed with pain too. Asking the Lord hard questions does not mean our faith is wavering; rather asking God these honest questions produces a greater trust in Him. It’s admitting that we can’t do it on our own. I read it somewhere that lamenting is saying: “God, this is the way I feel; I leave it to you.”
Ann Voskamp writes: “Lament is an outrage… that still trusts in God’s good outcome. Lament is this articulation of the ache at God’s abandonment, then an acquiescence to His ache, and finally an abandonment to His will.”
I invite you to lament with God. Ask Him the hard questions on your heart. I can’t promise you that you’ll get the answers you want, but I can promise that you will feel His presence in your life as you bring everything to Him. Lament causes us to lay our burdens down and trust that God is still working things for good.