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Lamenting can be good for the soul.

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Lamenting can be good for the soul.

Today I noticed this wood carving on my shelf. It was a gift from a friend. It was made in Lithuania I think. It’s called “pensive Jesus.” I was told it captures the sadness the people faced during some difficult years in their history. I imagine it’s how Jesus feels about the events in our nation. He hurts when we hurt.

Lamenting can be good for the soul. Looking deeply into the pain and suffering of the world, and on our part in contributing to it can be very difficult. Even painful. But facing the truth of the pain we have caused is part of the healing, and a part of justice. For me, these days call for lamenting, which I pray God will use to lead to action.

I've been spending some time reading the Psalms of Lament in the book of Psalms.

It turns out, there are more lament Psalms than any other kind. In the past, I never really connected with the lament Psalms. They seemed to be expressing feelings, emotions, circumstances I personally could not connect with.

I've been reading them again, and putting myself in the shoes of someone experiencing persistent, unending injustice and oppression. I try to imagine how African Americans who have suffered injustice and oppression for so long would hear these Psalms. It's not hard to imagine how powerful these words would be to a person in that situation. These words and emotions come to life in African Spiritual songs of worship. They are deeply moving.

As I think about all the people on earth, it seems that the majority of people live under oppression, poverty, and injustice. I imagine most people connect very deeply with words and emotions of the lament Psalms.

And then it makes me realize that I've never experienced it - so it is foreign to me. I have to admit I'm ashamed that it has never occurred to me to use these Psalms to pray for those who are persecuted, to grow in my compassion and concern for those who do suffer, to move me to work for justice and peace in my community, nation and world.

It's been very helpful for me to spend some time in the lament Psalms, maybe it would be for you too. Give it a try.

There are two kinds of lament Psalms - communal and individual. You can easily Google a list of them. You can also read the book of Lamentations by Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem.

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? how long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" Psalm 13

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