Tag Archives: Lamentations

A Closer Walk: Redeeming Lamentations and Grief

I have tread the stony paths of grief more than once in my life.

Can I confess, again?

I never saw any redeeming value in these paths until very recently. Grief to me was always something to be avoided at best, or impatiently endured; gutting it out at it’s worst. I wanted to move swiftly through it; to just get it over with and be done; focusing on the finish line while ignoring the journey itself.

I mean, who thinks pain has any redeeming good?

We are taught in our Western Culture to abhor grief.

Grief is seen as something with no redeeming value, and we treat it as if it were a freakish and unwelcome enemy, when actually the very opposite is true.

I know, how could grief be a friend?

I was first introduced to this idea when I read the allegory, Hinds Feet On High Places.

In Hurnnard’s story, the heroine, Little Miss “Much-Afraid” is longingly dreaming of leaving her home, The Valley of Humiliation, and going to the beautiful and majestic High Places. She is a member of the Fearing Family, and her bullying and unkind relatives torment her at their every opportunity, especially her cousin Craven-Fear.

Much-Afraid has recently given her heart to The Chief Shepherd, who mostly lives in the High Places, and Much-Afraid longs to go there to be with Him, but has little hope of ever making the difficult journey because her feet are crippled and she often stumbles.

She is convinced that visiting The High Places is only a distant and hopeless dream.

Well, I won’t spoil the story for you. If you haven’t read the book, suffice it to say, I recommend it highly. It uses wonderful imagery to portray many of the difficult realities in our discipleship journey.

Hinds Feet: Sorrow & SufferingI bring it up here, solely to make this point.

In the story, Much-Afraid finds the courage to ask the Shepherd to help her journey to The High Places, and He grants her request.

To make sure she gets there safely, He gives her two traveling companions: one named Sorrow, the other named Suffering.

The first time I read the book I thought, “What! What kind of love is that?” She asks to go to The High Places so that she can be healed, and thereby transformed. And so, The Shepherd gives her these two “friends” Sorrow and Suffering?

(Friends?)

Most of us find this idea repulsive.

Recoiling in shock, or fear and anger, when we are introduced to these traveling companions with grief as our teacher?

Why would God do such a thing?

Perhaps, it is because we pray to be changed… transformed? To become more like Jesus?

So God agrees, takes us at our words, and answers our prayers.

Unexpectedly, we are introduced to “…the fellowship of His (Jesus) sufferings” and because we are, we wail and rail against a God, who would allow such painful things to happen to us!

So I’ll ask again, “Why do we believe these songs of lament will never be ours to sing?”

God gives us the truth via our Bibles; spells it out for us.

His unchanging and ultimate goal is to remake us into the image of His Son… by any means, at any cost.

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ALWAYS

Have I not told you the witness of two is true?

What does the 73rd psalm tell you? “…you are holding my right hand… my health fails; my spirits droop, yet, God remains! He is the strength of my heart.”

And My word in Isaiah 41?

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. [vs. 10]

Come, I see you struggling with doubt and fear.

You think, “I am alone.”

You are not. I AM here, with you.

Hinds Feet quoteNot for one second since all this began have you been alone. Although, I know, many times you felt as though you were.

Ah, those feelings of yours! They sometimes lead you a merry chase!

But I wouldn’t have you without them.

No, no! I want you to bring them with you when you come to Me. Always, but you lead the way… the feelings will follow.

Meanwhile, keep those lovely eyes… (Oh, those eyes!) Keep them on Me!

I AM present child. The difficulties, the heartbreak, will pass. I remain. Everything, every. thing. you are going through, is preparing you. Do not reject your teachers. Do not fear them.

redeeming sorrowI AM upholding you with My victorious right hand.

(I AM here little one.)

You may stumble…

You may even fall…

But I have your hand.

(Always.)

Even when it hurts.


a closer walkAnd this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 

Philippians 3:10Philippians 3:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death;

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A Good Lament

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I remember long ago this songwriter God.

(You know the one.)

He asked the question:

Where are the lamentations for modern day?

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He implied ( I thought) that lamentations were GOOD… necessary, now as then.

Well… is that true?

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Lamentation: makes the hard and cruel – disgusted.

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(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the shallow, impatient.

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(Is that good?)

Lamentation: makes the pompous reject.

(Is that good?)

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These strutting-saints in purple robes, all chorus, “No!” in unison.

They think sad words a total waste.

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But songwriter has me thinking twice.

Perhaps this oxymoron just might work.

For is it not true…

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That Lamentation gives voice to the crushed in spirit.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation dignifies – not disqualifies.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation lifts the fallen and binds the wound.

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(Isn’t that good?)

Lamentation, in dirges sweet, bows to God and sovereign plan.

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(Isn’t that good?)

So, too, I sing – will not be silent, for songs must sing to captive hearts.

Perhaps this lamentation sweet will open imprisoned hearts and minds.

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(Yes God, that would be GOOD.)

The DREAM-MAKER’S Promise:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider and call for the mourning women, that they may come; And send for the skillful wailing women, that they may come.” Jeremiah 9:17Jeremiah 9:17
English: World English Bible - WEB

17 Thus says Yahweh of Armies, Consider you, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for the skillful women, that they may come:

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The Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Father… these songs, they give voice to the deepest sorrows in my heart; things I feel so deeply, yet cannot find the words for my prayers.

Let these songs become the words; be my prayers; my heart-cries to You!

Will You bend down, in Your sweet love and mercy, and listen… hear my anguish that reaches out to You alone, for help and healing for all in need.

Our world is in such a mess Abba; such distress! Most just turn and look away.

(Sometimes, I accuse You of looking away, too…)

But, You never do!

Father, help me, to never look away again.

Designer Dungeons

027aa9fa73140da2048987f35b3e8b8cJeremiah is a great friend of mine. We have spent many days together talking about God and our dungeon experiences.

He comforts me. He sent me notes of encouragement from so many centuries before, yet his frustrations, are as current as yesterday’s battles.

Yes, he is a great friend of mine.

While he pours out his frustrations in Lamentations chapter three, I listen, and I nod “yes” in all the appropriate places.

A good friend does that.

His dungeon is quite different from mine. His—designed for him—mine designed for me.  And the God who sees and hears, and knows everything, knows just what we need to get us from anger and frustration, to hope and trust. Jeremiah’s is tailor-made for him. Mine is tailor-made for me.

Your dungeon? Yes, it is tailor-made for you and of God’s knowing and choosing.

I know, you think yours is the worst. Jeremiah thought his was. I think mine is. But no, each one, each captivity is designed specifically for the one it encloses; designed to bring us to the end of ourselves and face-to-face with God.

It is love that closes us in.

Oh, I know. I didn’t think so at first. Jeremiah didn’t either, but after the caterpillar begins to adjust:

⦁ to the tight space
⦁ to the dark place

After he has:

⦁ made his case
⦁ and surrendered his race

He searches:

⦁ for God’s face
⦁ and finds God’s grace

And he discovers his custom cocoon? His designer dungeon? Though snug in spots, fits him like a glove.

And remember little caterpillar. Though tight and dark your cocoon may be—it is the place where wings are formed!

The DREAM~MAKER’S Promise:

He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy.                Lamentations 3:7Lamentations 3:7
English: World English Bible - WEB

7 He has walled me about, that I can’t go forth; he has made my chain heavy.

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A Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Father, when life seems to close in around us; when the darkness of despair threatens to suffocate all that desires Your will above all else, then Father, then come to our aid! Remind us in the very tight places, that You love us with an everlasting love, and nothing can shake that. Remind us that this is the very place Your wisdom has chosen for us; our cocoon to transform us; to form wings of destiny for Your plan and purpose.
Oh Abba… help us, when we forget.