Will this ever end? Whats the point? Why? This sucks. Aghhhhhh!
These are things I have thought in the last hour or so.
Lockdown fatigue is kicking in and I am over it. What about you?
Lockdown fatigue is kicking in and to be honest, I am over it. What about you?
It dawned on me today though, that there is something we can do as Christians when we feel like this, but we often don’t do it.
In fact, it’s one of the most underused and unknown aspects of the Bible in the Western Church: Lament. Lament is a style of Psalm where you honestly declare the struggles and suffering you are experiencing directly to God, in a God-honouring way. As someone said, “Laments turns toward God when sorrow tempts you to run from him.” And it’s everywhere in the Bible. And yet, rarely practiced by modern Aussie Christians.
Why? Maybe it’s because we have such comfortable lives compared to the rest of the world. Or maybe it has to to with our culture of positivity, where we identify strong faith with being ambitious, joyful and strong. So when we come across a sentence in the Bible that says “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Ps 13:1) we get nervous because we can’t empathise. We think it’s too negative or think “you can’t say that to God.”
Oh, but we can and must.
We think ‘you can’t say that to God.’ Oh, but we can and must.
The absence of regular lament is a key reason why Aussie Christians have a malnourished theology of suffering. It’s why when hardship comes, we flounder and our faith is exposed as fragile, because we never did what God’s people have always been doing—bringing our lamentation to God.
You might not be “struggling” in lockdown. This time may not be the hardest thing you have ever dealt with. But can I suggest it’s a great time to begin to practice lamenting. Because life will get harder, more suffering is on the way and now is a good time to begin to lament. To begin to speak the prayer language of God’s people in sorrow.
Here is a how to: I have based this on Psalm 13 which has 3 parts:
- You Question (vs 1-2);
- You Ask (vs 3-4);
- You Remind (vs 5-6).
Try reading each section of the Psalm and then, after a bit of reflection, try writing your own prayer.
1. You Question
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Question: What are my honest (blunt) questions to God about the hardship and sorrow I am experiencing? N.b. The more honest the better—remember God is a big God, he can handle it.
2. You Ask
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
Ask: What am I requesting God to do? What prayer would I like answered? Healing? Relief? Justice?
3. You Remind
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Remind: What truth(s) do I know about God to cling onto? What aspect of His character is precious?
As you write, reflect and put it together, you are beginning to lament:
- being honest before God and not hiding;
- asking, knowing you are limited but God is not;
- holding onto what is certain—Gods character—when everything is uncertain.
Finally, here is my personal Lockdown Lament:
Oh Lord, another week in the fog. How long? How many more to go? I am over it!
How long must I watch my daughter grieve missing her friends? How long must we watch the COVID cases go up? How long must our dining table not be filled with the faces of others?
You call us to love our neighbour, but it feels wrong right now to show it.
You call your people to gather together, but we can’t.
You call us to be joyful in all seasons, I am trying, but this sucks.
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
I feel my anger building and my apathy growing. Keep me patient Lord. As I look out at an unknown future, bring about relief, and comfort and stability Lord. And please protect my Grandma safe from the virus.
But I know you are in control God and you will take, again, what is bad and use it for good. There is purpose in all this.
Praise you God, for I am realising how weak I am, but you are so very strong.
Nothing will overtake you. And I know you, Lord Jesus; you ain’t going anywhere.
You are with me each day as the fatigue lingers.