“Godly despair is . . . a howling prayer that sees no explanation for our pain but reflexively knows something beyond an answer is what we desire. Godly despair cries out for perspective but allows the hollowness of loss to move the heart to seek God.”
Dan Allender, The Cry of the Soul
If you continue to engage with the (many) Laments in the Bible, it becomes more and more obvious that God is a lot more comfortable with our pain, confusion, questions, struggle, and despair than we are. Let’s face it. Laments feel awkward, even when we read them alone and by ourselves. When we read and enter into laments publicly, whether in church or with our small groups, it’s a whole other level! It’s a struggle to believe that it’s okay for us to talk to God like this. It just feels wrong. But the Hebrew title for the book of Psalms is “The Book of Public Praises.” We are meant to lament together; God wants us to lament together. We need to lament together.
Many of the reasons laments are awkward and we avoid them are the same reasons they are important, good, necessary, and healthy. For example: Laments require vulnerability. Vulnerability is difficult. Public vulnerability can be especially awkward and uncomfortable. Vulnerability is a risk. However, we all know that vulnerability is the key component for relational health, depth, and intimacy. Love cannot flourish without vulnerability. An avoidance of vulnerability will kill intimacy every single time.
Here’s the good bad news in Psalm 77. God will passionately fight for intimacy with you, even if it means causing you pain and discomfort. Psalm 77 tells us that God is willing to hold our eyelids open in ways that cause us pain. Why? Why would God force our eyes to stay open to see things that cause us pain when we just want to close our eyes and make it go away? It’s because God wants intimacy with us. God wants us to see and face the pain, suffering, injustice, and loneliness in our own lives and in the world around us. He wants to cause us pain. He wants us to face reality. Why? Because he wants us to come to him vulnerable, in need, and open. He wants all of us, and he knows that we need all of him.
Also in Psalm 77, like so many other laments, we see that praise and lament go hand in hand. They need each other. When we praise God and remember the good things and the good times, it should, and it MUST, lead us into lament and longing. Why? Because everything is broken, and the good things we experience do not last, or soon get spoiled. Also, because things in this world are just not right! God wants to hold our eyelids open so we see the pain, suffering, and struggles of others in a world that is unjust, unfair, and unequal. Why? Because it’s true and we need him.
So, take some time to lean into the lament of Psalm 77. As you do that, ask God what it is he wants you to see and face. Ask him to give you permission and courage to enter into lament more regularly. Confess and repent for your, and our, avoidance of vulnerability and intimacy with him.
Yours in Christ’s love,