1I am the man who has seen affliction
    by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk
    in darkness rather than light;
indeed, he has turned his hand against me
    again and again, all day long.

He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
    and has broken my bones.
He has besieged me and surrounded me
    with bitterness and hardship.
He has made me dwell in darkness
    like those long dead.

Lamentations 3:1-6

I have recently been studying the laments of the bible. Not just those in the psalms though many of them are found there but others in the text as well. This is language that I can honestly say in many ways I wish wasn’t in the bible but in other ways I am glad it is.

Let me start with the reasons I wish it wasn’t

I want faith to be about victory, not only the victory of being reconciled with God but also victory in my struggles and pain in this life. I want the affliction that I have suffered at the hands of others to mean something and to be made right not in some far off heaven which we can;t even know for certain exists or not but in the here and now. I want some of the things that have happened to me to be avenged, yeah I said it. There is a part of me that wants the most graphic language of the imprecatory psalms or cursing psalms to come true to my enemies. Stuff like

“Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave.”

Psalm 55:15

I want to believe that once you’ve found Jesus that life, THIS life, will somehow magically work out. That there won’t be anymore pain and suffering, That I was made for greatness and the wasteland I leave behind in my youth only adds dramatic affect to that reality. But the laments prove me wrong, that men of God, even the greatest members of God’s hasll of fame, suffered greastly even after they dedicated their lives to following him.

King David in psalm 22 cries out in anguish

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Paul cries out in Romans 7

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

All over the text of my most holy book I see men and women, dedicated to the path that GOd has set out for them, struggling, suffering, crying out in grief and anger.

I don’t want this to be the way!

But(and you will notice in the laments that there is almost always a ‘but) I am also glad the laments are there for us to read.

Because they let me know that I am not alone. They remind me that even giants of the faith, even Jesus himself had grief and sadness and anguish in this earthly life. They remind me that God does his greatest work through suffering people, including THE greatest work of all which is the atonement for the entire world.

I am in good company!

And.. no matter how much I selfishly wish it was sometimes, this life I have chosen to lead is not about my comfort, it is not about my earthly desires, it is about him, Jesus, and the work that he is doing for this world and the broken sinner who dwell on it.

It is about my chance to take part in that work, to further the gospel, to give aid and comfort to people just like me who leave behind a landmine in their past.

They also remind me that, in the midst of whatever I might be going through, that laments, honest crying out from my soul in grief and sadness, is as much a part of worship as my thanksgiving in good times is. It reminds me that those giants of the faith were not afraid to come to God and leave it all at his feet, even their rage, even if that rage was sometimes directed at him.

I am thankful that I serve a God who invites me to experience all of my emotions and allows me the opportunity to express myself out of all of those emotional states, that he cannot be shaken in his love and fondness for me even when I feel like the entire world is falling apart around me.

I love and hate the laments of the bible. They are an eyesore for someone like me who wishes that life could be led without suffering but they are manna for a guy like me who sometimes wonders if he is all alone in the pain I have experienced.

How about you? What is a lament that rings true in your life? Share the verse with us. ALso have you ever thought about writing your own?


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