The following is written by Shainu Thomas. Shainu is a member of Seven Mile Road Church.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning…And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down… Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
– A Grief Observed, C.S Lewis
Perhaps, you can resonate with some of Lewis’ words and the emotions behind them. It’s only been a few weeks since this all started- since the dreadful, wretched, invisible plague started wreaking havoc on the world as we’ve known it. And perhaps, unlike any other season in life, we find our emotions to be all over the place. Hopeful and happy one moment, uncertain and tearful the next. You can’t exactly explain why you feel the way you feel. But you just do.
Folks who have lived through seasons of grief in their life may be familiar with these feelings. Except this time, it’s not one person’s grief. It seems that we are grieving collectively as a community, as a society, as a nation, as a world. We hear of more people being tested positive. And worse, as we hear of friends losing loved ones, we can’t help but grieve. And we ought to grieve. If we stop to consider, it’s overwhelming to think that almost overnight, our world changed completely. Everything we experienced as part of normal life- going to work and school, visiting friends and family, shopping (without gloves, masks or hand sanitizer)- all of it got taken away from us.
We look for different ways to cope. People have said to me that they try to stay busy, because if they stop, they might get overwhelmed with all that’s going on around them. Others fight to stay positive.
How do we adequately convey our deepest sadness, our anxieties, our helplessness? Do our tears convey a lack of trust in God? In the midst of life’s difficulties, do our questions and even complaints mean that we have lost our faith? Far from it. In fact, the Bible offers a powerful means through which we can express our longing, our fears, and our sorrow.
Lament- raw, honest, unfiltered- lament. You can almost hear the pain in that word. Throughout scripture we see examples of God’s people lamenting before Him. They cry out and ask, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?”(Hab 1:2); “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears” (Psa 6:6); “Why, O God? Why, Have you forgotten me?”(Psa 22:2) “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever” (Psa 44:23) The scriptures are replete with songs of lament.
Scriptures encourage us that God is at work, even in the midst of suffering. Scripture is even audacious enough to say that we can rejoice always. But thankfully, there is also room for lament. To tell God that life is hard when it is. Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Looking towards the agony He would suffer on the cross, He told his disciples that he was filled with sorrow, even to the point of death. Knowing that His Father had a purpose and plan for His pain didn’t keep Him from falling apart. In the pain of His soul, He sweat blood. This was JESUS! The Son of God! He did not feel the need to hold back his emotions. No, He was honest and raw before his heavenly Father.
Certainly we can also do the same. We can lament before God and tell him that this was not how it was supposed to be. We can weep about the brokenness in the world today. We can mourn at the uncertainty of death that looms around us. And as we cry before God, we will begin to see Him more clearly. He doesn’t withdraw but comes near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He will give us peace, not as the world gives, but only as He can. We will hear him whisper, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”
As we enter this week, some places will experience the peak of this dreaded curve, and an invisible darkness hangs over our world. But we remember, especially this week, having celebrated Good Friday, that darkness hung over our Savior as well. He knows our pain. So we can freely bring our laments to Him. And this week, having celebrated Easter, we know that darkness will give way and morning will come. So we lament, but we do so with hope.