Summary: In this last sermon of the series on grief and lament, we explore and engage in how to live with lament. How to employ it with cases of overwhelming grief, and with cases of everyday, minor grief. The sermon ends with two examples of lament prayers.
A. Back in May, during our series about hope, I opened a sermon with a story that I want to use again today as our launching point.
1. One afternoon, a man came home from work to find two young girls from the neighborhood on the steps of his building.
2. Both girls were crying very loudly, and were shedding big tears.
3. Thinking they might be hurt, the man put down his briefcase and quickly went over to them, asking, “Are you all right?”.
4. Still sobbing, one girl held up her doll and said, “My baby doll’s arm came off.”
5. The man took the doll and its dismembered arm, and after a little effort had the doll put back together again.
6. “Thank you,” came a whimper from the girl.
7. Then turning to the other little girl, the man asked, “And what’s the matter with you, young lady?”
8. The second little girl wiped her cheeks and said to the man, “Oh, nothing is the matter with me, I was just helping her cry!”
B. Learning to lament the brokenness and losses in our lives is one of the most helpful and healthy things we can do for ourselves and for others.
1. And learning how to come alongside others and lament with them, like the little girl who was “just helping her friend cry,” is part of the spiritual development that I hope all of us will experience.
2. Learning to live with lament helps us to experience the love of God and the love of others.
3. When the body of Christ is healthy and strong, then the life in Christ we share together includes: “rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15), and “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).
C. Today’s sermon is the last in our series on grief, and I hope you have been learning a lot about how to lament and the benefits that come from the process of lament.
1. I hope that we all have come to understand how lament enables us to receive God’s mercy in the midst of dark clouds.
2. As we turn to God in prayer, and lay out our messy struggles, we can receive the help we need from our grace-giving God.
3. In our series so far, we have spent time learning how to lament and learning from lament, but today I want us to focus on learning to live with lament.
4. I want to encourage us to learn to practice lament in more ways than we might normally think of lament.
5. Growing in lament is connected to our personal spiritual growth and our view of God.
6. Esther Fleece says in her book No More Faking Fine, “Spiritual maturity does not mean living a lament-less life; rather, it means we grow into becoming good lamenters and thus grow in our need for God.”
D. So today, before we engage in some practical applications of lament, I want to share Mark Vroegop’s reasons why lament should be our prayer when grief of any kind becomes a part of our lives – this is a good review of what we have learned through this sermon series.
1. First, lament is a language for loss – lament provides a biblical vocabulary and a model for talking to God about our pain and helping those who are walking through suffering.
2. Second, lament is the solution for silence – unfortunately, far too many people either are afraid to talk with God about their suffering, or refuse to talk with God.
a. Whether their silence is the result of shame, a fear of rejection, other anxiety, or a concern of being irreverent, their suffering leads to silence and being cut off from God.
b. Lament moves us from silence to communication.
3. Third, lament is a category for expressing our complaints – lament helps us see that complaining to God is not necessarily sinful.
a. For hurting people, knowing that it is okay to express these kinds of things to God can be so freeing and life-giving.
4. Fourth, lament is a framework for feelings – lament is more than the sinful spewing of every emotion and thought, but is a God-centered structure to keep us from falling into the trap of self-centeredness and getting stuck in the mud of negativity.
5. Fifth, lament is a process for our pain – it is more than a biblical version of the stages of grief.
a. Lament invites God’s people on a journey of turning to God and trusting in God.
b. Lament is more than something that comes out of us; rather, it is part of the process happening in us.