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What does it mean to lament?

In times of joy and happiness, we often turn to God in praise, and in the same vein, in times of grief and loss, we can also turn to God in lament.

A lament is a prayer to God, often concerning distress or injustice. A lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow, believing that because of a relationship with “an almighty God,” God will rise with a response to a sincere posture of lament.

The premise is simple: my friend, the almighty God, will not hear my cry, see me in distress, and do nothing. With this in mind, a lament is an unwavering act of faith coming from a relationship with a God who sees, hears and can be trusted to respond appropriately.

“I just can’t… If I let myself engage with the recent shootings in Buffalo at the grocery store, Uvalde at Rob Elementary, and Tulsa at the medical building, I may fall apart.”

 

What if we fall apart, together? 

In my prayer times, I am moved to lament. I’ve prayed––”God!? Enough is enough; arise and set order. How many more people will be murdered because of their skin color, yet we see little to no change in how easily people of color are killed in racially motivated attacks?

How many students will not come home from school because they were gunned down (within minutes) by a person using a weapon designed for mass destruction on a battlefield on school grounds intended for learning and character formation? And these are but a few inflection points of this cultural moment.

I just can’t right now…

A friend said to me, “I just can’t… If I let myself engage with the recent shootings in Buffalo at the grocery store, Uvalde at Rob Elementary, and Tulsa at the medical building, I may fall apart.” 

I get it. It all just feels like too much to consume. My response was– “what if we fell apart together?” 

Lament Falling Apart Togehter

The act of faith called lament enables us to approach God for a better tomorrow with today’s pain.

Then, in our collective grief, loss, and despair, we shall find the strength to rise and receive the gift of wisdom from God to grow together and enact change. 

 

Leading well through tragic times.

So, what now? How do we lead our churches, organizations, and families through so much tragedy and pain? How do we step forward into the light when it feels like we’re against a wall?

  1. Don’t be afraid of sitting in pain. Avoidance and denial are roadblocks to growth and understanding.

  2. Remember that each individual has their own story and pace. Aim to walk alongside people through their unique experiences.

  3. Growth and progress never occur without missteps and failures. Give yourself and each other grace. But we must keep going.

 

Try, fail, learn, try again, forever and ever.If your organization is seeking change, we’d love to help. 

 

OlaDele Okuwobi
OlaDele Okuwobi

OlaDele Okuwobi is the Directional Pastor of 21st Century Church, a church plant in Cincinnati, OH. He is the founder of the Love & Unity Project, a consulting and coaching agency helping churches and organizations combat personal and systematic bias by utilizing a combination of theological and social scientific training to ensure measurable and lasting change.