By Jane Lewis--
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
Have you found yourself asking similar questions? How long, Lord, is this virus going to limit my comings and goings? How long is this going to keep me from being with my family and friends? How long am I going to feel this isolation and loneliness, this anxiety over health, this grief, this financial strain, this uncertainty about the future? How long will my children suffer? How long will there be estrangements from loved ones? How long before all is made right? How long, Lord, how long?
When I look in my Bible, there is one book that has more personal notations and underlines than in any other book. It is the book of Lamentations. I didn’t know it at the time, but this book is considered a book of funeral (sorrow and mourning) poems. It’s about the destruction of Jerusalem, and the lamenting of the author over what has happened to his beloved city and the people in it. My notations beside so many of the verses were the felt realities of the destruction of my marriage. I could relate to the agony of loss, the pain of and for my children, the fear of the unknown, and the waitings for the mercy of God to rescue. My writings in the margins of my Bible were my own laments. It’s strange how I found comfort in a book that held so much pain.
How are you doing in this present time of your life? I know all of us are experiencing losses of some sort, but what about you personally? Do you find yourself lamenting? Do you allow yourself the inner reflection and actually the gift, of lamenting? For me, the self-honesty, the self-examining if you will, has been elusive. I tell myself that whatever God allows, He does so for a reason. When situations are bad, or if someone has hurt me, I oftentimes don’t let myself think about it for too long. I feel the immediate feelings, but then try to quickly turn it over and put it all in God’s hands, trusting in Him to work everything out. Placing everything in God’s hands is certainly the right thing to do, but if I’m not being totally honest with myself on what is going on inside, how can I place the fullness of the situation in His hands?
As so often happens when God is trying to tell me something, I hear inklings from more than one source. And that is happening now. In studying Lamentations, I hear it; in the novel I’m now reading, I hear it; and in an email a friend sent to me sharing the importance of sitting beside one’s feelings, I hear it. It’s time. It’s time to let my soul lament. It’s time to be honest with myself about the reality of my hurts, my disappointments, my angers, my fears. I think the Lord wants me to recognize and express it all to Him, and perhaps even to others (or one) with whom I feel safe in so doing. It’s in the recognizing that it can be released, and in the releasing that freedom and healing can be found. And I know I won’t be alone. God will be with me. The One we can always depend on. The One who is always there. The very One who overcame all so that one day, all of us who love Him, who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, will be with Him forever. There will be no more reason to lament, but only reason to praise and experience joy.
I would like to invite every one of you to allow yourself to do your own lamenting. Allow yourself to cry out to God about your pain, your fears, your anger, your uncertainties. Yes, He knows about them already, but there is healing in the self-revealing and in the releasing. Express all that is within your being. God, the lover of your soul, the lover of your heart, the very reason you’re here, is right there with you. He is loving you in every feeling you feel, in every word you speak (or wail), and in every breath you take. He will not leave you nor forsake you—not ever! I pray for those of you who dare to risk experiencing the great relief of the great release, that you will also, along with the author of Lamentations, see the truth of the Lord’s faithfulness. I now know why I found comfort in those poems so long ago. They also held hope. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
If you are experiencing a difficult time right now, and need someone to come alongside to listen and give you encouraging support, please know that we have people at GPBC serving as Stephen Ministers who would like to be that person for you. And for those of you who have a desire to walk beside someone having a difficult time, please let us know. We need more Stephen Ministers to be Jesus to the hurting. There is an upcoming training beginning the end of January that will equip you with the skills to minister to others. If the Lord is calling to you to serve in this way, please contact Stephen Ministry at .
As we enter this Christmas season, I am reminded of my childhood. I remember the exuberance of childhood excitement. The time of miracles. I came from a family that did not have a lot of money for extras. All of our basic needs were met, but at times it was a struggle for my parents to provide. So when we received gifts from Santa, it was magical. We believed in something more. We believed in someone more. On Christmas morning, my siblings and I would sing Christmas carols from the top of the stairs, waiting for Mom and Dad to call up to us that we could come down and see what Santa brought. More than once we would hear, “No, it’s not time yet. Go back to bed.” Well to that I now say, “Yes, yes it is time! It’s time to wake up and experience the One that came down to us. It’s time to experience the someone more who is real. It’s time to experience Jesus.” Wishing you all, my precious GPBC church body and whoever else may be reading this, a very “Merry Christmas” as we celebrate the birth of our forever faithful Lord Jesus. Hallelujah!