Listening through Lament

We listen best in silence. But sometimes we can’t reach stillness. The noise in our own hearts is too great. The longings, the fears, the disappointments, the anger overwhelm our ability to rest. How then do we listen? In these times, we listen through lament. Then it is through our own crying out that we most clearly hear and share the pain in the heart of God.

In our culture that seeks to drown pain and reaches for pleasure at all costs, we miss hearing the somber tones in the heartbeat of God. Certainly His heart beats the bright tones of joy and the soft tones of peace and the strong tones of love. But joy is borne of sorrow, and love hurts, and the heart of God also beats the deep tones of lament.

“Rejected by His people, hounded by a hopeless sense of separation from the ones He loved the most – the Lord shared these feelings with His young shepherd king. David would lament them again and again to God, as God would lament them through David. Lament became a bridge between them. They would cross it again and again in their loneliness and find each other.” (Michael Card, A Sacred Sorrow, p. 68)

In lament, we hear and share the pain in the heart of God. The pain of separation. The longing for presence and oneness. We affirm with God that this is not how things should be. When we deny ourselves permission to lament, we cut ourselves off not only from our own hearts, and from those around us, but also from the heart of God.

As we lament our sin, declaring our inability to repair the problems in us and around us, the kingdom of God comes near. Sorrow breaks through into praise. The One who himself laments disrupted relationship draws near to comfort and restore. And we hear the Heartbeat that speaks the final Word of Love.


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5: 3-4) 


The Choosing to Feel

sometimes it feels so hard
it seems that all our love
all our attempts to help
are rebuffed

Sometimes I wonder
why do we even bother?

Wouldn’t it be easier
to close our eyes to the pain
to choose not to see
not to love
and thus not to feel the hurt ourselves?

• • • • •

It started well                                                                                  Gen 1
pure love
complete intimacy

delight in creating
satisfaction in the created
“It is good”                                                                                     Gen 1:31

desire                                                                                             Gen 1:26
to share the enjoyment

then . . .

loneliness as you looked for your friends?                                        Gen 3:8-9
hurt at their hiding from you. . .
at the maligning of your motives?                                                     Gen 3:2-5

grief at the so-rapid destruction of your joyfully created beauty?
anger at the Evil that had done this. . .                                              Gen 3:14
the twisting of your words. . .
the deceit?

the murder of one you loved                                                            Gen 4:4, 10
rising violence and wickedness until
only evil, evil, evil
evil thoughts, evil actions                                                                  Gen 6:5

and for you
as you watched
deeper and deeper grief
intolerable pain                                                                                Gen 6:6

the decision to extinguish                                                                  Gen 6:7
all of your ruined creation
to wipe out
the evil
and hence the pain

• • • • •

Another decision
a choice                                                                                           Gen 9:9-17
a promise

the decision to never again
so completely destroy
even ruined creation

the choice to feel
to love

the promise to continue in relationship
despite the risk of pain

• • • • •

too soon
more desperate hurt
a vying for your place                                                                       Gen 11:4

again a choice
a promise
not only to keep loving
but to bless                                                                                      Gen 12:3
all nations


All those you had just scattered in punishment                                   Gen 11:6-9
and protection

• • • • •

tenderness                                                                                        Is 63:15
yearning                                                                                           Jer 31:20

grief                                                                                                  Jer 3:19-20
anger                                                                                                Ps 95:10
Deut 32:19
longing                                                                                              Is 30:18

rejection                                                                                            Deut 32:15-18
as time and again                                                                               Is 53:3
those you loved so passionately
those you chose
also chose . . .

a lifeless, worthless substitute                                                             Jer 2:11-13
over the living, life-giving You

Again and again
a choice
to keep feeling
keep loving
the love and the pain

“What can I do with you?”                                                               Hos 6:4
. . . yet “How I can I give you up?”                                                   Hos 11:8

“And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer”                                   Judg 10:16
“His heart was filled with pain”                                                          Gen 6:6
“Enough!”                                                                                         2 Sam 24:16

So often seemingly too much to bear
. . . yet
. . . the choice

Again and again

but always too a reaffirmation
of the choice

to keep feeling
to keep loving
to open yourself to the certainty of more pain
more tears

Indescribable grief                                                                             Matt 26:38
desertion                                                                                           Matt 27:46
rejection                                                                                            Matt 27:22
intolerable pain                                                                                  Luke 22:44
alone in your death.

• • • • •

“Take up your cross”                                                                         Matt 16:24
that instrument of pain

The same choice

To follow me                                                                                     John 15:12-13
you must choose to feel
the pain that comes with loving

There is no other way.                                                                       Luke 14:27

holy experience

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