Learning to Lament

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…
James 1:27

eye-609987_1280From a young age, I remember thinking to myself that real men don’t cry and that I shouldn’t be a cry baby.  I can’t say that anyone ever explicitly taught me that or even told me that — it was just understood.  Crying was a sign of weakness, of vulnerability, of being a loser, and so you didn’t cry.

But there is a time for crying, there is a time for tears, or to use the words of the psalmist, a time to lament.  A lament is a passionate crying out of grief, of pain, of sorrow.  And for the reader and obeyer of scripture it can have a special connotation of crying out to God, a plea that He would turn and hear the cry and act based upon His love and His justice.

lamentations
Biofrostartsmusic.bandcamp.com

There is a lot of talk recently about the refugee and the immigrant.  I’m not interested in this post to make a political argument one way or the other.  It’s not that I don’t have an opinion about that, and in time that opinion may find its way into one of my blogs.  But as I sat in church today (we attended University Baptist Church in Waco, TX, for the first time today; it was a great service.), I was struck by the words of one of the worship songs we sang.  It was a lament named “Rise Up” from an album named “Lamentations:  Simple Songs of Lament and Hope, Vol 1.  I would encourage you to listen to the song by clicking here before you continue reading.

As I listened to the song I was reminded that regardless of our political persuasions or opinions regarding national security, law and order, refugees, immigrants, or whatever our hearts — if we are believers in Jesus Christ — should be breaking.  We should watch the news not with triumph or anger but with sadness and tears.  As believers, we need to learn to weep, we need to learn to cry out to God, we need to learn to lament.  If our hearts are not broken over the pain in this world, then I fear that we do not have the heart of Christ or quite possibly (to use the term with which I was raised hearing in Sunday School) we may not have Jesus in our own heart.

Let us weep together, let us cry out to God, let us lament:
   May we plead that God will rise up.
   May we pray that the earth will fear the Lord.
   May we petition that God will avenge the poor.
   May we hope that God’s Kingdom will come.
      O rise up!