When I pray with my charismatic brothers and sisters, I feel like a dripping faucet next to a roaring waterfall. Jeremiah tells us to
CRY OUT! POUR OUT YOUR HEART LIKE WATER!
Our own Mary used this good image of how a waterwheel begins when water is poured into it:
We turn to Him with our lament, He fills us with His grace to trust, and we are moved forward to our next time of needing to lament and bringing our emptiness to Him.
Jeremiah, in Lamentations 2:19 says:
Cry out in the night!
Pour out your hearts like water!
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children
who faint from hunger!
With help from Lamentations 2 and Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, let us, together, get water to get our waterwheels going!
A huge highlight for me personally was when Becky came on, a woman I met in a Bible study for resident’s wives and their friends forty-five years ago. We connected once since then when I was speaking in Oklahoma, but that was long ago as well. Becky is a fountain of wisdom and knows all about the lament. Her husband died suddenly at 52, and that was followed by the death of first one son, and then another. Her story is BIG and I’ll save it for another week during this study. But this is Becky’s family before she lost her husband and two of her sons.
Then you, as always had wonderful thoughts. I am thankful to several newcomers, who are trusting this group enough to pour our their hearts like water. And you, wonderful sisters, are joining them in earnest prayer..
I realize that it is dangerous to do highlights, for some may feel over-looked. I received a convicting e-mail a few months back from a woman who said I never commented on her post — though she was on for a long time. I looked — and it was true. I so need grace here — if I continue to miss you, know that God does not. I am asking the Lord if it is wise to do highlights, for there is in this the potential to hurt.
But, for now, I’m continuing.
Tammy Jo on learning from lament:
I have learned that God may not immediately change my circumstances, but He can give me the strength to endure. I have learned that in the same season there can be great sorrow and rich blessing. I have learned that some pain goes so deep, and brings such great damage, that only God can heal only God can speak into those places. I have learned that I don’t have to have the answers, that being there, just being present, can be comforting. I have learned that I don’t have to have the answers but just trust the God who gives and takes away.
Mary B on why suffering and lamenting has value:
It makes me think of the Velveteen Rabbit. Becoming Real means suffering and loss, but is so worth it because of love….we can savor life better for awareness of lament. When I worked hospice, we often told people that a terminal illness could be a blessing, because it gave people a chance to do all the really important relational things.
Diane on the danger of blaming others for our sin and suffering
Another lesson is the blindness of humans to blame each other and denigrate each other – one of the worst results of blame is genocides, such as the holocaust and also slavery. It seems unthinkable that anyone should blame another race of people for their own sins and to humiliate, mistreat and even eliminate them or enslave them; but it is sadly too common even today. We have seen it this year in North America in humbling and very sad ways through the murder of blacks and indigenous by the hand of police officers.
Susan on how awareness of the pain of others can help us do simple things
What are even small gestures that I can make to show others how loved they are? The other week at work, taking time to brush a patient’s dentures was a small act that I could do. Wouldn’t I want someone to care about if my teeth and mouth were clean?
Denise, a newcomer, who has suffered deeply, and brings a storehouse of wisdom because of it:
Grief from the death of someone with Alzheimer’s is often disenfranchised because everyone assumes you feel relief…but the truth is, even when she was not able to interact with life, I could still hold my mother’s hand.
And, as a Christian social worker in pediatric palliative care
I remember meeting with my old college friends, several I had not seen in 38 years. We all caught up with each other, but I felt a part of my life was hidden. How could I say, “Oh by the way, yesterday I sat with a woman for 12 hours holding her dead baby and crying primal sobs.” And when you deal with that every day, others whining and complaints seem trivial. I could relate a lot to what Mark said in this section. It is HARD to sit with someone in their pain, knowing there are no words, no wisdom of any value that you have to give but just a calming presence and sit in someone’s sorrow.
Lynn poured out her heart about the abuse she suffered as a child, and her parents’ closing their eyes to it. I thought she was so insightful as to why they did — their idols — so I was so thankful for those of you who prayed, pouring out your hearts like water.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- What do you think it means to pour out your heart like water — are you gaining in your ability to do this through the lament?
Monday: God’s Perspective
Though we may feel shocked that our Father could pour such suffering upon His children, I have found what the Puritan Jonathan Edwards says so helpful. He explains that God sees us through two lenses: “the infinite complexity of the divine mind is such that God can look through a narrow lens or through a wide-angle lens.” In the narrow lens, He sees us as individuals, as cherished children. He knows our names, dialogues with us, and loves to give us joy. In the wide-angle lens, He sees His eternal plan to birth, rescue, and refine a “pure Bride.”
3. There is a great reversal of God’s behavior toward His children — see if you can find it in each of the following passages:
A. Once God covered Zion with blessing, allowed the building of a beautiful Temple as “His footstool.” (See Isaiah 60:13) Now what, according to Lament. 2:1?
B. Once God honored her princes, allowed her to be His mouthpiece (her horns), and protected her with His right hand. Now what, according to Lamentations 2:2-3?
C. One God was the friend of Israel, now what, according to Lamentations 2:4-5?
D. What are some of the ways He has shown His anger, according to Lam. 2:6-9?
4. Has God ever felt like “an enemy” to you? Looking back, is your perspective any different? Why or why not?
5. Does Jonathan Edwards’s thought on God looking through two lenses help you? Why or why not?
Tuesday: The Wisdom of Lamentations
6. The Lament is not only to help us pray our tears but to learn. Read, in Dark Clouds Deep Mercy, the section in Chapter 5 (in the book, page 5) under The Wisdom of Lamentations: Sin is the Real Problem and share your insights or comments.
7. Read the next section: My Sin and Suffering are Not The Only Problems and share your insights or comments.
Wednesday: We Watch the News So We Know How to Lament (Mark Dever)
At the risk of sounding political, I want to share two news reports to set us up to lament. I will tell you personally that I do not see a godly leader running for President and I am so conflicted. I see each candidate doing terrible things, yet also each supporting some good things. What do I do? I pray. I lament. The World and Everything In It had a program interviewing Mindy Belz, who has lived for years in these persecuted countries. Once many could find asylum in the United States, but now we have almost zero admittance to those in great danger. You can read or listen to this if you like, though my main point is to help us sit in the chair and lament for persecuted Christians.
These executions happened on July 21st in Nigeria as a warning against converting to Christianity. Here is the information on the men:
The name of the Christian men who were murdered:
- Ishaku Yakubu, an aid worker from Chibok with Action Against Hunger was a member of the Church of the Brethren.
- Luka Filibus, an aid worker from Monguno with the International Rescue Committee was a member of the Church of the Brethren.
- Joseph Prince, a private security firm worker, was a member of the Redeemed Christian Church in Maiduguri.
The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that the two other men executed worked with Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency and a company named Rich International.
8. Please sit in the lamenting chair and pour out your heart like water for our persecuted brothers and sisters, for their loved ones, and for our leaders.
Thursday: Let Your Tears Flow Like A River
9. Read Lamentations 2:10-22
A. What particularly moves you in this passage and why?
B. Pray Lamentations 2:19 either personally or for suffering in the world.
Friday: Lament Awakens The Soul
10. Read the last section in this chapter: Lament Awakens the Soul and share your insights and comments.
11. Lament here the pain your “false lovers” have brought you, and, if it is appropriate,
turn to God in repentance.
12. Answer two of the reflection questions and share a take-a-way.