I'm Not Uncomfortable with the Psalms of Lament


Your theology is incomplete if you only celebrate and never mourn. As a parent of a special needs or adopted child, come just as you are.

During the sermon on Ruth 1, a pastor admitted that we prefer the stories in Ruth 4 over the ones in Ruth 1. We like celebrations; we avoid mourning. I've noticed too that we love to quote psalms of praise and thanksgiving and wisdom, but the psalms of lament? 

Sometimes we treat those like they aren't from the same inerrant Bible as the happier ones.

My friends, the Bible - and life - is not all thanksgiving and Ruth 4. Sometimes it's lament and Ruth 1.

We like to be chipper and cheery, but sometimes our pithy responses sound like, "Screw you and your pain," to those who are hurting. Sometimes the cliches feel less like encouragement and more like a sucker punch.

I know most folks mean well, but sometimes I wonder: if Jesus's lament from the cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" had been posted on Facebook, how many people would have replied "Chin up, buddy!" or "This too shall pass" or "I know you're in pain now, but it'll be all fine in a few days. Hang in there!"

{Is it sinful that I just chuckled at the unintended pun of saying "hang in there" to our God on the cross? Forgive me.}

"Look on the bright side" doesn't respond to a mother's exhaustion when her daughter with autism tries to escape from the house every night, not understanding the danger of her actions.

"There's a light at the end of the tunnel" doesn't help the parent wondering what the future will be for her son with Down syndrome or the dad taking his son home from the hospital without any firm answers for the fifteenth time.

"One day at a time" isn't comforting to adoptive parents who know their child is sick but who must wait out the legal process before bringing him home to needed medical care.

And "tough times don't last, but tough people do" is a slap in the face to the missionary fighting bureaucratic red tape just to get on a plane to mourn her father's unexpected death in the US while she faithfully poured into others in Taiwan. 

Those are just a sampling of my friends' circumstances. 

I'm not sure what the point of this post is, other than to say this: Our theology is incomplete if we only celebrate and never mourn. We've edited out huge chunks of scripture when we encourage people to live their best lives now. We're creating idols if we worship miraculous healings rather than the Healer who sometimes, for reasons all His own, chooses not to heal us on this side of heaven.

We don't have to cover up our bruises and hide our imperfections and sugarcoat our real pain when we stand before Christ or before fellow saints in His bride, the church. 

Let's be real with one another, setting aside the trite pseudo-encouragements and Photoshopped conversations that we'd prefer. 

Come as you are. If you're mourning or lamenting, you have good company among me and my friends... and among the writers God used to author the Bible. 


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