There may be times when we have become so overcome with anguish that we feel utterly overwhelmed with sorrow and completely and soul-despairingly alone. In times like these, it helps to remember that God is there, and He is ready and able to bear our burdens and to ease our suffering, and distress. God understands the centre of our pain and is available to listen to and reach out to us in our heartache, anger, or sadness. The Psalms of Lamentation are a powerful tool that can be used to help us find a way through times of pain and suffering. Actually, more than a third of the psalms in the Bible are psalms of lament. Some of the psalms are individual laments, while others are community laments. These help us, both individually and as a community, to bring the depths of our pain and difficulty to God in prayer. Through them we can cry out to God, begging for release or rescue us from our agony. Lamentation acknowledges a feeling of great hurt and enables us to direct our feeling of overwhelming loss toward God. In lament, we acknowledge that God is everything and in our weakness, we call out to Him knowing He is there and will respond. At the current time, we have a deep sense of loss and hurt and need to reach out to God in our despair.
Terry Waite says this in his introduction to the book ‘The Wisdom of the Psalms. ‘
‘Many of the psalms speak on behalf of a small group of people who feel rejected and downtrodden. The writers encourage the weak and urge them to remain faithful to the commands of God.’
Today I suggest you look in particular at Psalms 130, 6, 38, and 42/43
Read the Psalms slowly and carefully take time to ponder over the meaning and
try to get inside the heart and mind of the psalmist.
Psalm 130:1 “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!”
Sometimes we are in deep despair because sin stands as a barrier to between us and God. This penitential psalm is about sorrow for our sin and at the same time keeping our eyes on God even as we cry out to Him for mercy.
As we remember that no matter what we have done nothing can separate us from the love of God, write your own psalm of lament to a loving and merciful God remembering he will hear our cry and welcome us back into the fold.
Psalm 6:3, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”
Sometimes, we feel deep pain over physical sickness, harassment, or persecution. There may be times when things are so we painfully either physically or emotionally that we don’t think we can bear it any longer. The psalmist here is clearly in deep distress and begs for God’s for help – now. He cannot bear his pain any longer.
Psalm 38:9-11, “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far away.”
Sometimes it is the behaviour or attitude of other people that hurt just as much as physical suffering. This psalm is concerned with the suffering being experienced at the hands of others, some who are his enemies, while others are his friends and companions.
In all this, we must remember that nothing is hidden from God. God sees all our pain. He knows our hearts, and He’s listening when we cry for relief.
Psalm 42/43, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”
It is possible that these two psalms were originally one song. In any case, they present a voice of profound lament, beginning by reminiscing about old times and expressing discouragement about the psalmist’s present situation. But now, his soul is downcast, his distress is great, sweeping over him like a waterfall or crashing ocean wave. He pledges to go to the altar and offer God praise, ending the psalm by putting his hope in the Lord in spite of his fear and sadness.
Lament psalms teach us that it’s never wrong to cry out to God. God hears us in our pain and welcomes us close.