Lament Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Worship Service Ideas for Lament</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">&ldquo;A lament is an implicit act of faith in which the community of faith turns to God as its only source of hope and comfort. Faith and hope are explicit in Psalm 42, for example, in which the lament &ldquo;My tears have been my food day and night&rdquo; leads to a statement of resolute trust: &ldquo;Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God&rdquo; (vv. 3, 5-6, NRSV).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">&ldquo;Lament can serve well as an extension of the prayer of confession. As we confess our sin, we also lament that God&rsquo;s kingdom has not yet fully come. Even as confession is followed by assurance of pardon, so lament may be followed, perhaps after a sustained silence, with a confident declaration of God&rsquo;s redemption of the world in Christ.&rdquo;</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(<em>The Worship Sourcebook</em>, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 111)</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Kyrie Eleison</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">The early church had spoken or sung refrains expressing lament and confession.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><em>Kyrie eleison</em> (Lord, have mercy).<br /><em>Christe eleison</em> (Christ, have mercy).</span><br /><span class="body-copy"><em>Kyrie eleison</em> (Lord, have mercy).</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Trisagion</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Meaning &ldquo;three times,&rdquo; the trisagion is a refrain from the early church that can be spoken or sung. Like the Kyrie, it expresses both confession and lament: Holy God, holy and mighty, holy immortal One, have mercy on us.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Ideas from Scripture for Lament</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">&ldquo;The biblical psalms feature several remarkable expressions of lament. In these laments, the worshiping community expresses grief and frustration at the brokenness of the world, even in situations in which the community is not directly culpable or blameworthy. These biblical laments witness to God&rsquo;s desire for honesty in worship. No experience in life is too difficult to be brought before God.&rdquo;</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(<em>The Worship Sourcebook</em>, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 111)</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Many readers of the psalms have noticed that laments within them are not rare. They are common and deeply meant. It seems natural to the psalmists to complain to God because, after all, who else is in charge? Whose world is this? Whose kingdom? Who is the source of overflowing love? Who remains the source of overflowing love right through all our lament?</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">The psalms of lament are full of questions because the psalmists believe in a &quot;God of unfailing love&quot; (Ps. 6). Lament makes no sense if God is indifferent or off duty. Lament makes sense only if God is a God of unfailing love.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">On the cross, Jesus honored every lamenting psalmist by himself lamenting, &quot;My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?&quot; That&#39;s Psalm 22, and Jesus took it from his heart and memory and onto his lips.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Samuel 1:19-27</a>, David laments</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">2 Samuel 11:26</a>, Bathsheba laments</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 6:2&ndash;4</a>, &ldquo;My bones are shaking with terror&rdquo;; deliver me, O L<span class="small-caps">ord</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 13:1&ndash;2</a>, &ldquo;How long, O L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>? Will you forget me for ever?&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 22:1&ndash;2</a>, &quot;My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 42:3, 5&ndash;6</a>, &ldquo;My tears have been my food day and night&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 55:17</a>, &quot;Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 56:1&ndash;2</a>, &ldquo;people trample on me&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 88</a>, &ldquo;Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry&rdquo;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Jeremiah 20:7&ndash;10, 18</a>, Jeremiah&rsquo;s complaint</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Amos 5:12, 16</a>, lamenting Israel&rsquo;s sin</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Micah 1:8</a>, lamenting Judah&rsquo;s sin</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 15:34</a>, Jesus laments from the cross</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Luke 23:27</a>, women lament Jesus on the cross</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 11:33&ndash;35</a>, Jesus laments at Lazarus&#39;s death</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">John 16:16, 20&ndash;21</a>, lament turns to joy</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Acts 8:2</a>, lament over Stephen&#39;s death</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections on Lament</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Lament takes faith. The psalms of lament are full of questions because the psalmists believe in a God of unfailing love. How long, Lord, how long? Why, Lord, why? When, Lord, when? Lament makes no sense if God is indifferent or off duty. Lament makes sense only if God is a God of unfailing love.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Lament arises from pain, but it also arises from confusion (&quot;My God, my God, why ?&quot;) or from indignation (&quot;I know how many are your transgressions&quot;), or from impatience (&quot;When ?) or from longsuffering now curdling into exasperation (&quot;How long?).</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Unbelief shakes its fist at God or dismisses God or tries to get an invasive God off its back. It&#39;s faith that laments. Faith wrestles with God because trouble and enemies and terror all are anomalies in God&#39;s world. They don&#39;t belong there. In a world in which the King of the universe has unfailing love, these things should not happen. But there they are, and so the believer points them out to God and laments them. These terrible things should not be. A young medical student in India should not be gang-raped on a public bus and beaten and left for dead. How long, Lord, how long? A man in Webster, New York, should not set his house on fire to lure firefighters into a trap so that he may kill them there. How long, Lord, how long? A gunman should not enter the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, and think in his arrogance that he has the right to destroy the lives of twenty children and six adults and everybody who loved them. How long, Lord, how long?</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Anguish from pain, anguish from absorbing the whole world&#39;s sin, anguish at experiencing abandonment&mdash;Jesus might as well have said, &quot;How long, Lord, how long?&quot; How long? Just long enough till he could say for us sinners, &quot;It is finished.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">&ldquo;Accordingly, nearly all of the psalms of lament also include or end with praise. Praise and lament are in tension within psalms and psalmists. The tension is strong and sometimes almost furious. But to psalmists they are both authentic expressions of faith. John Witvliet has observed that &quot;lament and praise are incomplete without the other, lest praise, particularly general or descriptive praise, be misunderstood as smug satisfaction or lament be understood as a denial or refusal of grace.&rdquo; </span><span class="body-copy-sm">(John D. Witvliet, <em>Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice </em>[Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003], 4).</span></p>