February 08, 2021

“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.”  Psalm 5: 1-2 NIV

Written by Guest Contributor Melissa Edge Henderson

I think we can safely say that after 2020, we were all ready for a fresh start when 2020 turned into 2021!

Yet when we begin to compare the end of last year with the beginning of this one, we may be asking how 2021 will be any different. It seems the pain from 2020 has spilled over. We are still in the messy middle of a pandemic, so it may be hard to have hope for a new start in the midst of unprecedented suffering.

What can we do? A better question may be how do we respond? 

We lament. In the Bible, to “lament” means to grieve – to literally cry out to God with our pain and our sorrow. Lamenting became very personal to me in 2010 after the sudden loss of my late husband. 

In a recent article regarding the pandemic, theologian N.T. Wright mentioned that Christians do not grieve well. Why is that? We tend to brush over things that are painful. We want a quick fix or a soundbite to make right what went wrong in the world or in our lives. We would rather escape our pain than face it.

Yet, when Jesus was confronted with pain and inexplicable suffering, He leaned in. You see, God did not shield His own Son from suffering, He allowed Him to experience it personally. And because of this, Jesus intimately knows how we feel; He knows the deep hurt we experience in our suffering. And He wants us to lean into Him.

Because Jesus understands, we can pray really honest prayers. We can tell him how hard this season of suffering has been for us and for those we love. Our heartfelt cries do not diminish our faith, rather they build our hope in God. As we invite God into our suffering, we declare that we trust Him to help. We admit our dependence on Him to move in our lives and reveal each step along the way. 

Ok, but how do we learn to grieve? 

A great place to start is by reading through the Psalms. Try reading Psalm 13, 22, 42, 43, or 44. These are examples of prayers of grief and sorrow. As you read, pay attention to the words the psalmist uses. Look for how he honestly cries out about what is wrong, how he declares trust in God and despite how he feels, how he asks for help and follows with praises to God. Now, don’t misunderstand – praising God doesn’t mean his problems instantly disappeared. But it does demonstrate how the psalmist places his hope in God, regardless of the outcome. 

God cares deeply and personally for us. We can be honest with Him about the pain in our lives and in the world. Let’s cry out to God and find hope together.