A recent email from my daughters’ school communications system began, “As we navigate this new normal…” Are you tired of hearing about the “new normal” yet? I very much appreciated a Hope Church member’s Facebook post the other day, which simply said: “Can we please stop calling this the new normal? Nothing about it feels normal.”
She’s exactly right. This isn’t the way things are supposed to be. And, honestly, even our “normal” before wasn’t the way things are supposed to be. If we hadn’t realized that before, we are acutely aware of it now. This pandemic has reminded us that this world, a world God created and called “very good,” is filled with so many not very good things. So what is there left for us to do when life spins out of control?
I’ve been encouraged over the past week by several articles on the topic of lament. Lament is something we don’t think much about, much less practice. But there is a reason the Psalms, a book of songs and prayers to God, are filled with so many laments. God has given us lamentation as a way to process the sadness, anxiety, anger, confusion, and fear we so often experience. And a lament is not a joyless, atheistic complaint; it is grounded in hope. “A lament,” Dan Allender writes, “is the battle cry against God that paradoxically voices a heart of desire and ironic faith in his goodness.”
As we move toward Easter, things typically begin to look brighter. It’s spring. The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming. Lent is coming to an end, and resurrection is around the corner. But this Easter isn’t normal; it will not look or feel the same. We will not be together for worship. We will not partake in the Lord’s Supper. We will not be feasting and celebrating with family and friends. So what is there left to do? We can grieve what has and is and will be lost, and cry to God from the depth of our soul. And in that lament, may we lean into the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father and believe him when he tells us “goodness and mercy will follow [us] all the days of [our] life” (Ps. 23:6).
Articles on Lament:
- “The God Who Hears Our Lament” by Derek Rishmawy
- “Lament and Love” by Steve Beck
- “The Hidden Hope in Lament” by Dan Allender
Music on Lament: