Learning to Lament part 4
In the last blog, we looked at truth and honesty; where truth is the objective doctrinal, theological, biblical reality of who God is. The God who has revealed himself and his attributes to us in his word. His completely sufficient, infallible, inerrant, authoritative, inspired word. The one who has ultimately revealed himself through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the truth of God incarnate. Those truths are the solid rock on which we stand, all other ground, as the old song puts it, “is sinking sand”.
On the one hand, we have this truth about God, his sovereignty, his goodness, his righteousness, his kindness, his compassion, his grace, etc. and on the other hand, we have the harsh realities of the brokenness, the pain, the tragedies, the griefs, the injustices, etc. in which we live our lives.
Lament helps us to bridge that divide. But to do so, we must be honest.
- Honest with our Complaints
No one likes complainers; people who complain about everything, “Karens” as they have come to be known. It certainly seems to be a wrong response toward God, and It is wrong, from an intellectual perspective. After all, he works everything together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. He is always working out his perfect will. His judgements are perfect, and his ways and thoughts are not ours, so yes, it is always intellectually wrong. But it is not always morally wrong or sinful.
Self-centred rage against God, when I don’t get my way, is wrong. But so is dishonest moralism, which will not admit the facts, acknowledge the pain, and struggles, saying everything’s just great when actually, it’s not.
Nor is it always sinful or wrong when complaining against fellow human beings. We are often sinned against by fellow human beings. To complain is honest. God understands, and he is big enough to take our complaints.
The Bible is full of complaining, including complaining against God, that isn’t sinful. Psalm 22 is a complaint, and our Lord himself, the sinless one, quotes it, owns it, and incarnates much of it.
Job Chapters 3, 6, and 10 are examples of complaints that are not sinful. So is much of Lamentations (cf. chapters 2 and 3). So are John 11:21 & 32. In Psalm 77:4-10 the Psalmist is accusing God of not being God-like.
Bringing your complaints to God is central to lament. It is the language of BELIEF, not unbelief. It is the language of one who believes in God, in His sovereignty, in His goodness, and his omnipotence, but who lives in a broken world.
Honest complaining requires humility. There is no place for arrogance. Complain out of pain, not pride!
- Honest with our Guilt
Complaining against God (and even others) may make you feel guilty. It should make you feel guilty if you are complaining against God. So be honest about it.
Grief often, if not always, has an element of GUILT attached to it. “If only I hadn’t done or said …”. Or “if only I had done or said …”. There is often “unfinished business” and plenty of open-ended “what if’s”.
We need to be honest with God concerning the cause of our guilt. There is both true guilt and false guilt.
TRUE GUILT – is when your struggle/pain/suffering is a result of your sin and the Lord is dealing with you accordingly. Let me hasten to say that in these instances, he never leaves you guessing as to the cause. You will know why. He will show it to you in one way or another. Usually, it will be through an honest brother or sister being used as a means of grace to point it out to you Biblically. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Be honest about it and confess it, see Lamentations 1:8&9, 14, 18, 20, 22, and Daniel 9:3-11. So be honest about it, AND confess it, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:8 & 9). That’s GRACE!
The solution for true guilt is GRACE. Daniel. 9:18&19 is a plea for GRACE.
FALSE GUILT – is feeling guilt for something we are either not guilty of, or that wasn’t an offense or a sin.
The solution for false guilt is TRUTH.
True guilt requires GRACE, False Guilt requires TRUTH.
The solution to both types of guilt, therefore, is to be found in Christ who is full of grace and truth. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14), “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). “Not only will the blood of Christ, secure our eternal redemption (v12), but it will also purify our conscience” (Hebrews 9:14). Be honest with your SIN (confess it & he will forgive it). Be honest with your guilt and his blood will cleanse your conscience.
- Honest with our Grievances
Often our suffering has nothing to do with personal sin or guilt. Jesus had neither, yet he quotes and incarnates the grievances of Psalm 22 as already seen. When you suffer “unjustly”, you will feel aggrieved, aggrieved by others, aggrieved by God. You need to honestly express it. If not, it will ferment into resentment, bitterness, and anger (the unrighteous kind), all of which are sinful.
Innocent Job (Job 1:1,8; 2:9) complains and airs his grievances (Job 3, 7:20&21 et.al.). Martha and Mary express their grievances to the Lord (John 11:20-22; 32) without sinning. Expressing our grievances TO the Lord is not sinful, expressing them ABOUT the Lord is a different matter.
Grievances expressed to the Lord emanate from BELIEF not UNBELIEF, they are turning TO God not AWAY from him. They express the struggle of reconciling how & why the God we know to be sovereign, loving, merciful, and gracious, etc. could allow or author such things.
The answer is to be found in Christ, the one who is God, having all the attributes just described, who was the perfectly innocent and sinless man, and who suffered the greatest injustice of all on the cross. This leads us to the last point.
- Honest with Christ
The man of sorrows acquainted with grief. The one who became sin for us and suffered for our sin. He suffered innocently and voiced our grievances. The one full of grace and truth, whose blood redeems us and cleanses our consciences. He knows Lament, he identified with it and prayed a lament psalm (Psalm 22). The one who fulfils the prophetic words of Lamentations 1:12.
What differentiates lament from crying, is PRAYER. Prayer to the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who may only be approached through the son. “no one comes to the Father but by me”.
So, in your struggle, your loss, your grief, your loneliness, or whatever else it may be, there is only one place to go. Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
That rest is not to be found anywhere else. So, come to him. Be honest with Him. Honest about your complaints, your guilt, and your grievances.
Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are