The Hope That Comes from the “L” Word

At a time in my life when I did not know better I bought a new car, and horror of horrors, I financed it. Immediately I become a debtor to the company that financed my car. Every month I owed a car payment.

When hardships, troubles, suffering, heartache, and serious illness come our way, many of us treat God as if He were a debtor to us. We feel entitled to a life without pain and suffering. After all, we go to church. We try to live by God’s commands. We read the Bible. We pray.

And when hardship and suffering come into our lives, we ask, “God, how could you do this to me? I don’t deserve these hard times And besides, you owe me. I’ve served you. I’ve given money to my church. I keep a Bible on my coffee table. God, you didn’t come through for me.” Spiritually immature followers of the Lord actually believe God owes them the “good life.” Do you see yourself here?

But mature followers of the Lord also have their crises of faith. They struggle with doubt when their prayers aren’t answered, when God’s ways don’t make sense, or when serious illness strikes them or a family member. They wonder, “Why is this happening? What is God’s plan in all of this? God I trust you, but I’m confused.” Do you see yourself here?

In my personal reading of late I have been drawn to several books that deal with “lamenting.” You ask, What is that? Lamenting is crying out to God for understanding, asking Him “why,” expressing your pain to Him, letting Him know things aren’t fine, and for lack of better words, giving God an earful while never losing your trust in Him.

Did you know that “lament” is all through the Bible, but especially in the Psalms. Jesus lamented while hanging on the cross. “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Job lamented:  “After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (Job 3:1). The writer of Psalm 13 lamented: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever”?

Don’t misunderstand. Lamenting is not giving God a good chewing out, and then saying, “See I told you God doesn’t care.” No, genuine lamenting is all about expressing your pain to God while at the same time believing He cares and that He can be trusted. In Christian lamenting you maintain your hope and trust in God.

You see, lament is an essential ingredient of honest faith. Lament is actually a response of faith to the brokenness of our sinfully fallen world. Lament is saying, “This world with all its injustice and pain isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I am longing for God’s day of redemption.”

I have especially enjoyed Esther Fleece’s book, No More Faking Fine. She explains well that God meets us in lament. Lamenting is the pathway to true intimacy with God.

Michael Card says, “Biblical lament is not complaint that goes nowhere. It’s the people of God planting seeds of hope in the soil of exasperation and despair, believing and expecting that the Lord will come through in the end.”

Remember that as you live for God and trust Him, He gives you permission to lament. So many of us, when asked how we are doing, answer with a glib “fine.” But we aren’t really fine. We are hurting. We are confused. We are in pain. We feel sad.

I encourage you to read through the Psalms in the Bible and take note of all the lamenting that goes on in those Psalms. Lamenting is a gift from God. Lamenting always points you in the direction of hope.

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