I know I wrote about laments just a few days ago, but Jeremiah’s words just hit home with me this morning. As I was coming to the end of Jeremiah 8, I was just stopped by these words:
My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.
Hark the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (Why have they provoked me to anger with their images and their foreign idols?”
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
For the hurt of my people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
These words were just so raw and so powerful that I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. Some of that is that “lament” has been on my heart since the DisGrace conference – so much of what I heard there was a call to lament. Lamenting injustice. Lamenting hurt and pain. Lamenting continuing racial divides. Lamenting the fact that we don’t lament anymore.
One of the speakers reminded us of how much of Scripture (especially in the Old Testament) is devoted to the practice of lament – 40% of the Psalms by some estimates, an entire book called “Lamentations”, and many other places. Yet, in our contemporary music books – hymnals, CCLI, etc – laments are few and far between. His estimate was that less than 15% of the hymns in the PCUSA hymnal are even vaguely laments and the songs that top the list of contemporary CCLI licensed songs that are laments? 5% at best.
Like this picture above, there are times that our lives is sunny and blue skies. But there are other times that aren’t that far away that are stormy, uncertain, and scary. They are places where a song of praise doesn’t seem to fit, but instead a lament of saying, “God we need you!” is necessary.