In the day of my trouble, I seek the Lord…
The Bible is remarkably honest about the troubles and sorrows we will face in this life. That Christians should expect to avoid or somehow rise above suffering and sadness is the promise of false teachers. It is understandable why such empty promises have always found an audience. Our hearts long for that land where there are no sorrows. But we do not live there yet. Even though, by God’s grace, we do experience many joys, this life is a veil of tears.
Only God’s Word offers an adequate answer as to why this is. The entire created order, ourselves included, has been corrupted by sin. Because of this the whole creation groans and we ourselves with it (Romans 8:18ff). Whether because of disease, disaster, or disobedience each of us experience the heavy weight of this fallen world. But God has not left us alone in our sorrow. Indeed, He has prepared for us a weight of glory in the life to come to which our present pains cannot be compared (Romans 8:18).
Until then the Lord has provided for His people a prayerful and worshipful language in which we may express our sadness and dismay. This language is called lament. A significant percentage of the Psalms offer expressions of lament. Indeed, Psalms of Lament are the largest single category of the 150 Psalms. One writer has called lament, “a prayer in pain that leads to trust” (Vroegop, 28). To lift up a prayer of lament is an act of deep trust in the Lord. It means we know things are not the way they are intended to be. Also, when we lift our lament before God we are acknowledging that only He can offer our souls the comfort they crave.
Lament is not the opposite of praise. It is a part of praise uniquely fit for a fallen world while the redeemed wait for the dawning of the age to come. “Lament is a path to praise as we are led through our brokenness and disappointment. The space between brokenness and God’s mercy is where this song is sung…It is the path from heartbreak to hope” (Vroegop, 28).