Nobody likes pain. A splinter makes us flinch. Sickness brings misery. Broken relationships hurt. Losing a loved one breaks our hearts. Pain comes in many ways but our reaction is always the same – we want to avoid it.
When we can’t avoid pain, one response is to whine about it. The technical word for whining is lament. A lament expresses the frustration, confusion, and suffering that comes with pain. Lament is the opposite of another common response to pain – denial. Are you more prone to lament your pain or deny it?
The Bible is filled with lament. God’s people cried out to God when they were in pain. More than one-third of the Psalms include lament. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130:1). The book of Job is filled with lament. “Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” (Job 3:11). One whole book, Lamentations, expresses the confusion and suffering of God’s people.
In the New Testament people who are afflicted cry out to Jesus for help. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, shouts out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” (Mark 10:47). Jesus himself laments in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me.” (Mark 14:36). On the cross Jesus repeats a lament from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I’m not usually a fan of whining but during Lent this year I will be encouraging it. I’m going to focus on the practice of telling God when something is not the way it is supposed to be. I’m going to cry out and ask God to help. Lament helps us focus on the truth. “We are powerless before this vast multitude that comes against us. We are at a loss what to do, hence our eyes are turned toward you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
As kids, when we were hurt we cried out for a kiss and a band-aide on our booboo. Lamentation cries “Ouch!” and hopes that God will hold us in our pain and bring healing.
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership