As the snow blows past the house, my mind is still on summer and the series we spent time on in the book of Psalms.
The contrast between snow to summer makes me think of the contrast between praise and lament. Like a large chunk of our year is winter, almost one-third of the book of Psalms is lament, ~50/150 Psalms. Is 1/3 of what we sing an opportunity to express anger, fear, frustration, despair, or sadness? Is lament the snowy days we dread as summer wanes?
"A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party—a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals." Carl R. Trueman
"How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Psalm 13:1
Visiting my Mom and Dad at their care home in Ponoka you overhear snippets of small talk, mostly framed around "snows comin' soon..." We love the sunny days. We dread the cold and snowy ones.
There are similar sentiments when it comes to congregational worship I am learning. We sing songs that magnify God, glorify His name, tell about the things He's done and praise Him! What glorious sunshine! So vital and necessary! However, we also need to cry out to Him with our sorrows, our pain, our brokenness asking Him for help, for comfort, to be our refuge. The dread hardship of winter. This feels distinctly uncomfortable to me, especially to sing these sorts of things with other people. Perhaps it makes you uncomfortable too?
I grew up in a family where you didn't talk about emotions, if you felt bad you just got busy and did something, preferably a cleaning task of some sort. To cry out meant you were incapable, broken, or weak. Lately, I have been holding this strategy up to the gospel message and realizing I am incapable, broken, and weak. Instead of pridefully getting busy and doing something, taking care of things myself, I need to get busy crying out to God, admitting how much I need Him, how many ways I hurt, and letting Him help and comfort me. I need to lament. Do you feel this way?
The wonderful thing is, God won't leave us in despair. Our complaints are not dirges, sung to the ether. Lament has an address, we pour it out to God. Psalm 13, quoted above, starts with the repeated phrase "How long?" It ends very differently, I encourage you to open your bible and read the entire psalm. Lamenting frequently leads us to trust in God, and to want to sing about it.
This week we will begin to explore lament in congregational worship a little more deeply. We will sing a few hymns and then take a moment to reflect on Psalm 42. Our time singing together is brief, my hope is that it will start our conversation about lament. I hope we can learn together how to add lament, allowing the cold snowy days to do their work on our souls.
Below is a youtube playlist of some songs of lament. Take time through the week to listen and pray.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.
Please email me at email@example.com with the songs you know or would like to share. Your comments, feedback and thoughts are always welcome.