This week I finished reading Mark Vroegop’s excellent book, “Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy. Discovering the Grace of Lament.” In it he describes how a series of miscarriages led he and his wife to practice prayers of lament bringing their sorrow to God, but trusting His goodness.
The book itself shares many wonderful lessons….
But for me the most important is “it’s okay if your not okay.”
Life is hard! So occasionally everyone will have a bad day. It’s interesting while struggling with things like anger, self-pity, discouragement, frustration, and weariness we will put on a smile and act like everything is fine (when it obviously isn’t). Even worse, when a brother or sister in Christ comes by and ask us how we are doing, we will always say “fine” even though everyone can clearly see we are anything but fine.
This attitude flows out of a belief that we should suffer (or endure) tough situations with confidence and strength. But there is also a sinister attitude that believes “nobody can see me hurting.” Part of this comes from people using us in the past, but most of it comes from our stubborn pride.
This leads to the covering up of our sorrow which is actually the ABSOLUTE WORST THING we could possibly do! Because that sorrow won’t stay covered up forever. And it will reveal itself with an explosion of anger!
Pastor Vroegop in his book encourages us to do something different with our sorrow…..
He encourages us to embrace our sorrow in four ways
- Keep turning to prayer
- Bring your complaints
- Ask boldly
- And choose to trust
The first two steps (keep turning, and bring your complaints) encourage us to deal with our sorrow in a Biblical way. This means bringing it to the Lord in constant prayer, and sharing our frustrations. The author explains these are complaints from a confused heart instead of a bitter or angry one that believes God isn’t fair. After facing our sorrow we can turn back to the Lord (ask boldly, choose to trust)
The beauty of this is there’s a balance between grasping the grief, and grasping God. This is illustrated by my favorite quote from the book.
“lament is the personal song that expresses our grief while embracing God’s goodness.”
As someone who is not always okay (but tells people I am) this idea of lament is a beautiful reminder sorrow and grief are tools for God’s glory. But they must be embraced instead of hidden.