When there is a natural disaster or a national tragedy, the damage is visible and the needs are known. So what in this moment are we to do when we don’t fully know how long and how damaged things will get? When we are instructed to avoid being near each other?
Let us give each other permission to lament.
Lament gives voice to the feelings of loss and despair we feel but don’t know how to express. The Psalms are loaded with prayers of lament. Consider reading some of them as a way to practice lament. Psalm 22 (here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+22&version=NRSV), Psalm 44 (here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+44&version=NRSV), Psalm 137 (here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+137&version=NRSV) Or Lamentations (all five chapters if you can), or chapter 5 here (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lamentations+5&version=NRSV)
“Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?
Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old—
unless you have utterly rejected us,
and are angry with us beyond measure.” (Lamentations 5:20-22)
I know many of you will be tempted to say, “But it isn’t that bad.” Or, “They have it so much worse.” That may be true, yet you still have permission to name your loss and the hurt you feel and give it to God. God can handle your lament. This may be our first pandemic, but it isn’t God’s first.
Lament first crossed my mind when my kids were told that school was going to be canceled for the next few weeks. I expected them react like it was a snow day and that they would be excited at first, but they weren’t. When their feelings of sadness and disappointment become words they were naming loss.
What kinds of loss are you experiencing?
-The loss of school field trips
-the loss of performing plays and musicals
-the loss of further social distancing by the already socially distant
-the loss of spring break trips
-the loss of income
-the loss of food security
-the loss of freedom
-the loss of being with friends
-the loss of holiday traditions (here: https://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/baileys-chocolate-cupcakes/)
-the loss of control
-the loss of a plan
-the loss of schedule
-the loss of a sense of safety and health
-the loss of community and connection
Lament doesn’t ask us to rush to the quick fix, or easy answers. Lament is the power of giving our loss a name and opening us up in compassion to our neighbors and the losses they feel too.
However, even prayers of lament of glimpses of grace. Here’s one that might be familiar,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lamentations+3&version=NRSV)