Pain and Hope

Last week a friend and I were talking and praying together and she pulled out a bible and started to read Lamentations 3. As she read some things struck me about this chapter that I had never fully noticed before even though they are fairly obvious. I guess most of the time when I’ve heard these verses I’ve heard and read verses 21-33 disconnected from the rest of the chapter, but it was the verses that came before 21 that really struck me this time.

There is such raw pain and grief and anger in these verses. The author doesn’t try and hid it or excuse it or cover over it, instead he directs his raw anger and grief directly at God saying… “He has made me dwell in darkness…” “He has walled me in…” “He has barred my way…” “He pierced my heart…” etc. etc. And yet it’s amidst this honest pain and anger and even amidst these accusations against God that he writes: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’… It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

This picture of honest grief mixed with honest hope being held together at the same time is so beautiful. But, it got me thinking how often do we allow ourselves and each other to feel both? To express both of these feelings together in our pain? I mean I think that most of us would feel uncomfortable if someone came up to us and said “The Lord has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.” Or some of the other sentiments expressed in the first part of this chapter. I mean I think most of us wouldn’t know what to do if someone expressed that kind of raw pain and anger to us. We would probably try to steer the conversation quickly to the hope side of things saying contrived things and giving shallow answers. We wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone accusing God like that and we would quickly try to get them to stop and instead say things like, “The Lord’s compassions never fail.”

But, it struck me maybe the healthiest way to deal with pain and suffering and loss is to enter both sides of this chapter. If we run straight to verses 21 we miss out on part of the process and we bury grief and anger that will eventually resurface. We need to give ourselves and those around us the freedom to feel grief, to feel pain, to feel anger and, I think, the freedom to direct all that grief and anger at God. And yet, we also can’t get stuck there and stay there forever, we need to experience both grief and hope. We can’t rush to hope without experiencing the pain, but we also don’t want to get stuck in the pain and accusations and never move forward to “waiting quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Maybe if we gave ourselves and others more freedom to experience the first part of the chapter we would all be more likely to move forward to the second part?

So, those were my thoughts – anyone have any other thoughts on this?

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany