From Grief to Lament
I’ve always found myself able to easily identify with David in the Psalms. They are often so raw and honest, where he is pouring out his heart and mind to God. Whether it’s praises or laments, David rarely restrains himself in expressing his thanksgiving or disappointment to God. Reading the Psalms has taught me some valuable lessons. One of great importance is that God can handle my baggage. He is big enough to hear my frustrations, disappointments, and hurts just as much as my praises, celebrations, and excitements.
I see a similar rawness when I look at the lament of Job in chapter 3. Here is a guy, wealthy and blessed beyond measure, and after losing everything in the first two chapters we find him surrounded by 3 friends who have joined him in mourning. Chapter 3 of Job’s story is one large lamenting of his birth, which I find so interesting. Here is a man, who in the first two chapters we see a strength in the face of adversity that might make us wonder if this guy is even real. But then we see Job let his guard down, and really begin to process his grief. It’s raw, it’s real, and for me it’s identifiable.
“Let the day perish on which I was born,Job 3:3
and the night that said,
‘A man is conceived.’
I’ve lost a lot of things in my life. I remember vividly the day my dad died 12 years ago, waking up at 5:23am sitting up in bed, and then my phone rang. I remember seeing my grandpa that same night after getting into town, and him passing two days after my Dad. I remember times when life felt like it was falling apart, nothing was going right, and I struggled to wrap my mind around how I was going to get out of the pit of depression.
But I have never lost everything like Job. While I can find his experience relatable, I’ve never experienced something exactly like him. To see this man who two chapters ago was on the ground worshipping after losing all of his wealth and children now lamenting that he was even born, leaves me reading in the emotions myself.
I see in Job’s expression the same comfort and trust I see in David’s throughout the Psalms. Job in the processing of his grief knew God was big enough to handle it. Job knew God was able to take the rawness of his feelings and thoughts. But what I find interesting in Job’s lament is not once does he blame God. His lament is riddled with questions, and isn’t that often our own situation? We find ourselves asking why. Questioning not out of disrespect for our Creator, but a genuine seeking of understanding. We find Job in chapter 3 reeling in his grief, his guard down, having an honest and intimate moment with his Creator God.
And all the while his 3 friends are sitting with him in silence. Seven days they did this before what we read in chapter 3 transpires! It makes me step back and think when was the last time I was present and supportive like this to a friend who was hurting? Have I ever? Often my instinct is to speak, give some type of advice I think is “helpful”. But for seven days and nights Job’s friends sat with him in silence, AFTER tearing their own robes and covering themselves in ashes.
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.Job 2:11-13
Job’s friends met Job where he was at, they mourned with him where he was at. They didn’t come in spouting off their thoughts and advice in a failed attempt to comfort their friend.
They sat in silence with him, until he was ready.
Sometimes our hurt needs silence. Sometimes our hurt doesn’t need words but just needs to exist for a moment. That doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to reside there forever, or that letting bitterness take root is acceptable. But the reality is that at times the hurt is so great, we just need to sit. And then, we get raw and honest with God.
I’ve never experienced hurt and grief so deep I’ve lamented my own birth as Job does. But I can appreciate the authenticity he displays in the midst of his grief. Job demonstrates for me, much like David in the Psalms, the power of authenticity in the midst of hurt. God can handle the rawness of my heart. He is big enough to hear my frustrations, my why’s, disappointments, and hurts, just as much as He hears my celebrations.
When was the last time you poured your heart out to God?
When was the last time you let your guard down around your friends in the midst of your pain?
When was the last time you allowed your friends to mourn with you, and support you through your grief?
I don’t see in Scripture this idea that we have to hide our feelings and put on a face of perfection like nothing ever bothers us. I see a call and examples of being authentic, being real and honest with God, and allowing others to come alongside us in support through the pain.
Maybe you need to find friends who will support you like Job’s did. Maybe you need to get real with God about the hurt you feel. You need to stop just sitting in the grief, and express it to God. Expect ups and down. Don’t be surprised when you think the grief is over, and then it hits you again.
But don’t get stuck in it. Continue to push forward even when you feel like giving up. Fight the temptation to wear a mask. Go to God, be authentic in your time with Him.
He’s big enough to handle anything you bring to Him.
You’re right, questioning isn’t necessarily a sin. It can be a form of arguing with God, but it can also be an expression of trust, wanting to understand, and being willing to accept the answer He gives. Zechariah questioned God’s words to him when He told him he would have a son (John the Baptist), and because of his doubt, he was struck dumb for the entire pregnancy. Mary, on the other hand, questioned, too (“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”) but apparently her question didn’t involve doubt. (She did say “How will this be?” not “How CAN this be?”)
Job’s friends, like many of us, started out being supportive, but eventually couldn’t resist opening their mouths, and once open, they had a hard time closing them.
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“Job’s friends, like many of us, started out being supportive, but eventually couldn’t resist opening their mouths, and once open, they had a hard time closing them. :/“
I’ll dive in to that soon!
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