Hi everyone. It has been a while since I have written. We had a vacation - challenged by the stomach virus that the little kids brought, generously provided by daycare. The kids didn't get it but Every. Single. Adult did. Yes- it was an unforgettable vacation.
We had our first stillborn alpaca the week we got back. He was beautiful and full term, and we still aren't sure what happened. Mom is doing fine. She knew.
We had to euthanize one of our pigs - he had cancer in his sinus cavities. Who knew one could grieve so for a pig?
And I have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which I believe has settled under my left shoulder blade. I thought it was a muscle spasm, but now I think those spirochetes have settled in and are playing poker, smoking cigars and drinking whiskey right there. Never did see that bullseye rash - I didn't even realize that I had been bitten by a tick. But if you get a rash that looks like it could be ringworm (like one might assume one could get from taking care of a critically ill pig) but it doesn't itch and doesn't quite fit the profile for ringworm, skip the jock itch cream and insist on a Lyme test. And just to be clear, the rash started out on my neck, not in my "jock itch area."
So we have reason to lament in our house, although things aren't nearly as bad here as they are elsewhere.
The war in Ukraine continues, and the U.S. Government is divided on whether to continue sending support.
The U.S. Government is divided, and we don't even have a Speaker of the House, with limited prospects for getting one any time soon. Meanwhile, people are suffering.
There is famine in Yemen.
Global warming continues to threaten those who can least afford to cope with it.
Hamas fired rockets into Israel, and Israel is responding with blistering attacks on Gaza.
Can I, as a regular citizen, do anything about any of these? I can pray, and I can vote. I do those things. But I, and most of the citizens of the world, can't do much more than that, and some don't even have those privileges. So I pray for the innocents, the people who aren't at the tables when decisions about attacks and counter attacks, oil-drilling permits, and corrupt practices are discussed. Right now I am praying for the parents and grandparents who are desperate to protect the children, and can't. I know how much anxiety I have for my own, and I am not directly threatened.
So I lament.
According to Open the Bible with Pastor Colin Smith, a lament is a prayer that expresses sorrow, grief, or confusion. The key word there, I think, is prayer. God can handle our sorrow, grief, confusion, and even anger. We must bring our fears and sorrows to God in prayer.
There are many examples of laments: Psalms 13 and 91 come to mind, as does the book of Lamentations. Jesus, as he was dying, lamented, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:45).
Pastor Ryan Higginbottom lays out four steps to lament:
Keep praying. The psalmist does and Jesus does.
Bring your complaints. Don't make this just a "kwitcherbitchin" session (in my humble opinion, God has better things to do than consider why I have to do the dishes and why I am having a bad hair day), but bring your heartfelt complaints, fears and anxieties.
Ask boldly. Nothing is too big for God, and God can handle the worst that you've got.
Last but not least, choose to trust God.
If you look at the psalms of lament, you will see this pattern. The psalmist is talking to God (prayer). She/he brings the complaints, and asks for help. At the end, God's wisdom, power, and love are acknowledged, and the psalmist remembers that God is in charge.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the evening before his arrest, Jesus prayed three times that the cup be taken from him. That is asking boldly. But three times he says, "not my will but yours be done." (Matthew 26:36-46). That is trust. That is lament. He prayed, he asked, he trusted.
As he is dying, Jesus cries out, believing that he has been forsaken, but God responds with the compassion of the people (some offered sour wine), an earthquake, darkness over the land, resurrection of the dead, and the rending of the temple curtain (Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, and Luke 23:44-46). God has most certainly not abandoned Jesus, and isn't offended that Jesus thinks he has. As he breathes his last, Jesus says, "Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46). Jesus trusted God, and we are all the better for it.
So I am going to try my hand at lament. I am not a poet. I encourage you to write your own laments, because we have so much to lament these days.
Heavenly One, you created us and know us. We believe that you love us.
But now, we look for you and don't see you.
We cry out, and don't hear you.
We search, and can't find you.
We trust ourselves to build businesses and make money. We wage war. We let our egos dictate our actions. We turn away from those different from ourselves.
We insist we know what You are thinking.
We believe that Your holy scriptures prove us right. We believe, in our righteousness, that those who have less don't deserve as much.
Children are starving. Children cower in basements and shelters. Parents grieve. Medical care is inadequate.
Some live in war zones. Some live in places of famine. Some live in neighborhoods where it isn't safe to send a child to the grocery store or to school. Some are ill and don't have adequate health care. Some are living under corrupt and dysfunctional governments.
We believe that our guns will save us. We believe that we know best. We believe....
We are failing ourselves and You.
Where are You, God? Why do we continue to think as we do? Why does the violence continue?
We say we want to follow Jesus. Show us where we are going wrong!
Show us! Answer us! Let us find you!
You alone are the creator. Your wisdom surpasses all other. Your love is insurmountable.
We trust in your goodness, and that your will prevails.
We trust that all things shall, ultimately, be well.
You never promised easy lives.
You are with us, and we are grateful.
If we pray, we will see, hear, and find.
Help us to pray. Break our hearts of stone, and help us to pray.
Higginbottom, Ryan. Biblical Lament and How to Do It. Open the Bible. https://openthebible.org/article/biblical-lament-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it/#:~:text=A%20lament%20is%20a%20prayer,side%2C%20lament%20can%20be%20jarring. Accessed October 14, 2023.