26 March 2021
Here we are, one year on. Who would have thought we would still be in some kind of lockdown? A year ago few of us were familiar with the word ‘lockdown’; now we use it almost every day.
It has been a year of loss. Yes, there have been some gains. But we have all lost something. Sadly, many have lost loved ones. Others have lost livelihoods. Most of us have lost contact with people, especially friends and family. We have all lost opportunities of one kind or another. And the loss has been uneven. Some have lost a lot, others very little.
One of the things I hope we have learned is to lament well. That for me has been one of the blessings of this year, to learn the pattern of lament laid out in the book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop, a pattern we meet in Psalm 13, a kind of model lament, a pattern we encounter in Lamentations, a book of laments: to turn, talk and trust.
First, turn to God. It is one thing to cry; it is another thing to cry to God. In your pain, it is easy to turn away from God. After all, in one way or another he is responsible. Yet the psalmist refuses to do that. Instead, he begins, “How long, Lord?” That is the crucial and first step: to turn to God.
Next, talk to God. And that comes in two parts: complaining to God and asking God. It is not wrong to complain to God, to tell him how you feel. He knows anyway; it is simply being honest. And he can cope. He is big enough. He can take it. So the psalmist asks, “Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
The next part of talking to God is asking for help. God is able to help. He is the only one who really can. Not only can he change the circumstances you find yourself in. He can change your character so that you can cope with those circumstances. It is plain what the psalmist wants when he asks: “Look on me and answer, Lord my God.”
Finally, trust in God. That often means waiting for God to answer. Waiting is part of trusting. That is where the psalmist gets to, telling God he trusts in him. He says, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
To learn to lament well is surely a gain, for there will be other losses you have to face. To bear those losses and not to know how to take them to the Lord in prayer would be a double loss.
Father, while we wait for all our losses to be made good in Christ, we ask you to help us to lament well, turning to you, talking to you and trusting in you. Amen.
Chris Hobbs, Senior Minister