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Lamenting from the pew
A Holy Thaw
I have a heaviness on my heart.
A gloom I cannot name.
Despair that follows me around
And blurs my sight with pain.
For I see gifts all around me
But they cannot pierce the cold.
I am numb to joys- touch, taste, and sounds,
Yet with weak hands I can still hold
This anchor of our souls.
The Man of Sorrows leads our holy crowd,
Repeating words from ancient mouths,
Turning towards a hearing God with sound,
Expressions of our faith out loud.
We lament, “How long?”
Though all our senses cold and numb,
Our holy God responds with love.
These ancient words - a source of heat and light
Through communal tears we have received our sight -
Perspective across space and time.
Without any external change,
I feel the thaw, a new refrain
In the middle of my pain,
My complaint can turn to praise.
“We have trusted in your steadfast love.
Our hearts rejoice.”
“A Holy Thaw” - Lament / Perspective
Last Sunday, my husband preached through Psalm 13. He did really well, and I was astounded at how good it was to hear a Lament sermon in the context of the pew. If I know the stories of my sisters and brothers, I am hearing this message through their ears and with the filter of their pain and suffering. I am connected to my neighbor and my community. I am connected to experiences outside of myself happening right now.
And my neighbor and I are resonating with words written thousands of years ago, and then read and recited and studied by believers ever since. We are connected to the pain of generations of Saints from David on and to the Man of Sorrows himself.
I was overwhelmed by the perspective/connection of hearing this passage in a current group of faithful believers and the perspective/connection of Saints throughout time.
The general feeling of suffering on earth is isolation and loneliness. I am by myself. No one understands me. But hearing sermons on lament in the (in-person) church context shows us that in both space and time, I am not alone. My sisters and brothers in the pew next to me are suffering. Saints throughout history have asked this same lamenting question we do today, “how long?”
We are not alone. And this is not the end. I am living on a single page of a good book by a good Author, with a good ending. This context changes my complaint and turns me towards a God who is Ancient of Days and worthy of praise.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1 PETER 4:12-14, ESV
25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:25-27, ESV
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
PSALM 13, ESV