Loss and Lament

The corona virus has stolen things from me. I am sure it has stolen from you as well. Last night I started listing things that I have lost in the last few months. Here is part of my list. What would yours look like?

  • A loved one
  • A source of income
  • Church
  • School
  • Community
  • Routine
  • Vacation or other trip
  • Milestone events
  • Date night
  • Sporting events

I do not like listing my losses. I want to push through and act like everything is fine. I can handle all of these things. Most of them aren’t that significant right? But loss, any loss, causes grief. And last night I was grieving. It may have been brought on by the movie we watched, but grief came to the surface. And as I thought about the things I have lost recently, I realized that each individual one may not have been significant, but as they stack up, the significance grows. And so does the grief.

At 2 in the morning when you are grieving, where do you go? I turn to Scripture. People in the Bible grieved. They were lonely and angry and frustrated with their circumstances. What did they do? They wrote songs of lament. Lament isn’t a word we use much today. It can be a verb meaning to express sorrow or a noun referring to the expression of such sorrow. We think of Psalms as a book of praise songs, but more than half of the psalms can be categorized as laments. Places where people have poured out their hurt to God. They are honest and raw. Some of those can take on violent tones (Ps. 137 for example). But others speak the words that perhaps we may be unable to say. How long, O Lord? How long? (Ps. 13) Do a quick online search and you can find lists of psalms of lament. You can use those psalms to help you put words to your prayers.

There is even a whole book in the Bible that is a lament. Fittingly, it is called Lamentations. The book is written by Jeremiah as he laments the destruction that has been poured out on Jerusalem and all of Judah due to their sin. He writes of the devastation that the people and the land are suffering. It is raw. There is deep suffering in this book, and some of it is really applicable to today.

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people. (Lamentations 1:1a, social distancing!)

“Go away! You are unclean!” men cry to them. “Away! Away! Don’t touch us!” When they flee and wander about, people among the nations say, “They can stay here no longer.” (Lamentations 4:15, social distancing and closed borders)

We get our bread at the risk of our lives. (Lamentations 5:9a, Do I have to go to the grocery store?)

But as in most laments there is hope. Chapter 3 of Lamentations is full of hope.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord….Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust — there may yet be hope.

Lamentations 3:22-29 NIV

And Psalm 13 ends on hope as well. It begins with “How long?” and ends with “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

I encourage you today to list your losses. Acknowledge them. Make space to grieve them. Pour your heart out to God. Use biblical words to help you. But remember that He is faithful. His mercies are new every morning. And in this time of social distancing and isolation, turn your hearts to him. Wait quietly for his salvation. And sing of his goodness to you.

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