When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
The words of Horatio Spafford’s timeless hymn roll through my mind on repeat. Knowing the pain that birthed this beloved hymn serves as a reminder that no matter how great one’s faith is, it does not spare any of us from adversity.
I have been on a journey of lament over the past few months. A journey that has indeed brought me into the throne room many times on my knees if not fully prostrate on the ground in utter brokenness before my God. Always believing sadness to be a “bad” emotion, something that makes me weak, I have been avoiding opening the door that leads into the heart of “the great sadness”. Through wisdom and prodding from my spiritual community, I was introduced to lament as being an integral part of the healing process as well as a part of our faith. So, I started to dig deeper into what the lamentation process is all about.
In every definition of lament that I read, many of the synonyms reflected an action such as wailing, crying, groaning, weeping, sobbing. A physical demonstration of the inward pain that we are feeling. Therefore, there must be something to this carnal need within me to break and weep uncontrollably, and I dug further still into the depths of faith because aren’t we as Christians supposed to be happy all the time? Why, when going through cavernous trials, do we put on masks of perfection just to go to church? Where is there room for lamentation in our worship services? Why are we not taught more about this?
I have often pondered this while sitting in church, unable to sing the hymns of praise to my precious Lord because I couldn’t get the words of joy up and out of my mouth. They were clogged behind the doorway of sadness that weighed so heavily in my soul, choked out by sobs. It is so difficult to sing words of joy and gladness when the shadow of sorrow has enveloped one’s life.
It made me feel almost guilty, ashamed that I could not bring forth the joy that I know my faith is supposed to invoke. Realizing from wise counsel I sought along this journey, that lamentation is part of our faith, it’s right in the Bible, there is an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations for a reason! They gave me the freedom to weep, mourn and wail for all I have lost. To fully break before God and know that lamentation is actually a very important part of my healing journey. One must enter into this place of darkness in order to experience the joy and freedom that awaits on the other side of it.
So, dropping my bags of burden at the door, I opened the door to the deep place in my soul where no one goes, crossed the threshold and curled up with Jesus in a whole new place I never even knew existed within me. There in the breaking, I experienced healing I have never known and struggle to put into words. It is there is the wailing and mourning that Jesus held me fast and would not let me go. It is there in the depths of my soul that Jesus spoke into my very being. It is there as I wept in His embrace that I felt the love only the Saviour can give.
He whispered, His words like honeycomb to my beat-up and weary soul. In the depths of despair, He just sat with me, His arms embracing me as I wailed bitterly. There are no words that can describe lament, its quite plainly put, a spiritual groaning. And as Jesus held me through it there was such peace at the end of it. Knowing that I am loved despite all of my shortcomings, despite all of my strivings to be enough, to hold it all together, to wear the mask of perfectionism…it was here in the caverns of my soul that I found true rest and peace in the darkness of my lamentation.
There is such beauty in the breaking. There is such love that defies all logic that meets us at the core of who we are. Such love that whispers…You are mine…You are my masterpiece…just as you admire the sunset and stand in awe of its sheer beauty, so I adore seeing you, my beloved.
Often in our sorrow we feel invisible, alone, isolated. The thing I love most about this journey into lamentation is that there is always a “but”; there is always hope.
Joy has left our hearts;
Our dancing has turned to mourning,
The garlands have fallen from our heads.
Weep for us because we have sinned.
Our hearts are sick and weary,
And or eyes grow dim with tears.
For Jerusalem is empty and desolate,
A place haunted by jackals.
But LORD, you remain the same forever!
Your throne continues from generation to generation…
Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again!
Give us back the joys we once had!
Lamentations 5:15-21 (emphasis mine)
I was given a bracelet last week that had a card with it and it reads “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear”.
Hope: to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment
We have hope!
Yet I still dare to hope
When I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my inheritance;
Therefore, I will hope in Him!
Despite our sorrows, despite our trials and tribulations, despite our lack of understanding why; we have a beautiful HOPE. We are never alone in our suffering, we have a Saviour who suffered and knows suffering intimately and longs to hold us through our lamentation. In some ways, I am grateful for the sufferings, because they have brought me closer, into a more intimate relationship with my Saviour. I have experienced His love, His strength to hold me up through the breaking process, His grace to shelter me through the storm, to protect me from shame or embarrassment, and to simply be able to embrace this season in my life.
If you are suffering, know that you are not alone. Know that as you open the door of lamentation, that you will be met with great joy as our Saviour longs to see you and hold you; to give you grace and hope!