When you hear the words “lamenting”, what do you think of? How does it make you feel? Does it turn you towards God, or away?
“O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?” (Psalm 74:1)
As a kid, reading words of what I thought to be accusation towards God, made me feel anxious. I would quickly skim past them in fear of making God angry at my disobedience. I believed that anger towards God was blasphemous. This followed me through my adolescence and into my young adulthood years. Until I could no longer keep the anger in.
Years of emotions from various situations and injustices could no longer be contained and they bubbled over. I entered a phase of not doubting God’s existence but doubting His goodness. The age-old questioning of God’s goodness, love and intent for my life became my focus. I sought out insight from people I trusted and who had asked these questions themselves and had found peace and God through it.
“The more I wrote, the less burdened I felt.”
Much to my surprise… Anger is okay, even good at times.
My mentor during this time taught me that it’s okay to be angry, that anger was a natural human emotion – and if God created us and called us good (Gen 1:31) then our ability to be angry was good too… As long as it was expressed in the correct manner and processed well. This was the beginning of learning about lamenting with God. I learnt that God wants to be a part of all our emotions and situations, and He wants to help us through them and process them together.
I began writing it all down. All of my anger, doubt, frustration, heartbreak and feelings of hopelessness. The more I wrote, the less burdened I felt. I’d spend my long commute to work wrestling through my emotions with God. I’d cry and sometimes scream out in frustration as I lay it all in front of Him. I learnt the power of both speaking out my emotions and writing it down. Along with my sessions with my mentor, these moments of lament with God became therapeutic.
He wants us to bring Him into everything so that we develop intimacy, trust and healthy communication with Him.
As time went on, my lamenting became less, and my thankfulness and awe of God increased. My situations and past didn’t necessarily change, but God changed me through the process. He worked in me so that I could handle and understand better.
The key: bring your anger to God
No matter what you’re going through, God wants you to bring your anger to Him. Even if you’re angry at Him, He can handle it. Much like a relationship with a parent, partner or friend – honesty is the best medicine. During our marriage prep course, my husband and I were continuously reminded of the importance of expressing ALL emotions to each other in a way that brought them into what we’re going through, rather than isolating each other. This develops intimacy, trust and healthier communication long-term. It’s hard, but it’s good in the long run. And this is very much what God wants us to do. He wants us to bring Him into everything so that we develop intimacy, trust and healthy communication with Him.
He WANTS us to live in relationship with Him because He’s interested in our daily lives. He wants to see us thrive. And lamenting is key to thriving.
When we bring Him into our moments of anger, sadness, frustration, doubt and hopelessness, He will be our comfort, fill us with peace, give us joy and will help us understand the situation better. He will give us revelations that will encourage us, and others, as we share our life journey with our community. As Christians we are certainly not exempt from hardship, but we are given tools, resources, and our Creator Himself as a means to walk through it – coming out stronger and more resilient because of Him.
I’m not nearly as eloquent as King David was with his laments in the Psalms, and that’s okay. We don’t need to lament poetically, we just need to lament with God. We can learn a great deal from reading books like Psalms, Lamentations and Job. God gave us the resources and guidance we need to cope here on Earth. He knew our mental wellbeing would be a struggle, so He has equipped us with healthy coping mechanisms.
Our God is good, despite what our situations here on Earth say, He cares about you more than you can even comprehend.
I encourage you to find your own way of lamenting with God. It’s a skill that will be useful throughout our lives and will contribute to healthy conflict management in our own relationships. Our God is good, despite what our situations here on Earth say, He cares about you more than you can even comprehend. Allow Him into your heart and mind as you express your anger and hurt to Him. And be expectant of a deepening in your intimacy and experience of Him.