A Lament is a religious cry of sorrow or mourning. Laments often occur when a loved one dies (Genesis 50:10) or when a political leader dies (2 Samuel 1:17) to express sincere grief. It is found in the Bible as “tearing one’s robes” “adorning the head with ashes” and “wearing sackcloth.” All these are forms of lament.
We lament as we experience situations that appear to the helpless. We express the deep anguish of the soul and cry out for deliverance and assistance. Feelings of brokenness cause lament. When we experience treachery, abandonment, and betrayal we are prone to lament even in silence. In the Bible the book of Psalms is full of laments with a wide range of expression. Psalm 12:1-2; 22; 44:1, 22-23; 86:14; 130:1; are a few.
Our nation is lamenting. We lament the systems of injustice that have plagued us from generation to generation. As a nation, none of us are immune to the pain experienced all around us. On the contrary, we are greatly affected by the friends, family members, and neighbors living in deep sorrow day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. As tensions continue to mount after the unjustified murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arberry, Breonna Taylor, al unarmedBlack People, our cities across the globe cry out in deep sorrow as well as deliverance and change.
Most laments have a leader. Unlike the leadership given by the current administration in the USA, which threatens to utilize military personnel and weaponry against unarmed citizens, or challenge Mayors and Governors with words of cowardice while hiding in a bunker, it is time for the nation to be led in unity encouraging hope for a present and a future. It would seem that if you clear the streets for a walk to the nearby church holding a bible that you at least lead the nation in a prayer of lament.
I have shared laments with my congregation on various occasions. It seems there is little need for this age-old practice any longer. But lamenting is a healthy practice, one which reminds us of our common humanity and our frailty. Lamenting reminds us of our need for God to intervene in our earthly situations. I’d like to share a lament with you from the Covenant Book of Worship.
“O God, we have wept this week, for our hearts are heavy. We confess, Lord, that we are confused. Our emotions are many and our answers are few. We are sad, worried, and angry. Our trust has been shaken. Why Lord? Why now? O God, why is life so difficult?
O Lord, you know that we claim your victory, but the darkness we feel in these days in overwhelming. Help us, O God, to feel you in the darkness of this night. Like children, we cry out for relief from the dark. It is so hard to focus on small things these days, when big things loom so large and our pain is oppressive.
Have mercy on us, O God. Keep us from sin. Keep our hearts and our minds connected to you. We know that you are our refuge and strength. Restore us to joy. Make us strong and new, ready and waiting for you to continue your work in us. We praise you, for you are God. Amen”