“So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped for from the Lord…’ Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope…” ~ Lamentations 3:18 & 21
This past week my wife and I were beyond blessed with the opportunity to spend a week together just the two of us at a retreat center for people in ministry and their spouses called “Quiet Waters” (follow this link to check it out for yourself). We traveled 10-½ hours both ways to a quaint little town in Colorado called Parker, CO and stayed in a large house in the countryside (the mountains were in view, however, the house itself is located outside of them). One other ministry couple attended this past week as well, and we also had a host couple that tended to our every need throughout the week, including 3 delicious daily meals. I highly recommend this to any couple in ministry needing some time to be together, unwind, gain some perspective on things, get away with God, and be refreshed and revitalized. You won’t be disappointed!
During the week each couple gets to spend 3 hours of personal, quality time a day (2 hours if staying for two weeks) with their own counselor, and the rest of the time is basically yours to spend however you like. I imagine that sounds like a lot of counseling time to some, but I found the pace to be just about right, and I am very thankful for the insights my wife and I gained from our counselor about many things.
One of the things our counselor had both my wife and I complete individually in the middle of the week was our own personal Lament to God considering our current circumstances and heart cries to him. I had done this once before in a Psalms class I took when in seminary so I knew some of what I was getting into. My wife, on the other hand, had never really embarked upon this before, but was pleasantly surprised with the result. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Lament, it is a graphic, no holds barred, raw emotion, unadulterated form of expressing one’s deepest emotions and longings to God. More simply put, it is really just being real with God, brutally honest even with him. Amazingly from this too comes a sense of greater trust, confidence, and closeness with God as well. You pour your heart out to him and entrust him with it. Many laments follow a particular form of approach to God, complaint, confession of trust, petition, words of assurance, and vow of praise.
I’d like to share my lament with you from this past week. As I do, please try to not read into it too much. Don’t jump to conclusions, be gracious, and just take it as it is. I think it can be very easy to get overly alarmed when reading such prayers as this. The feelings and words expressed are still real; however, I know God is in this and taking care of me and my family.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my current circumstances, I am currently between jobs. I have recently resigned from my second pastorate in less than 5 years (both being within rural, country churches in Iowa), and I am trying to discern and wait on the Lord for what’s next for me and my family. I do have a deep sense of calling from God, however, I don’t think I’ve quite found my nitch yet in ministry. This is a trying time as I deeply desire to find more permanence and fulfillment in my calling from God.
Whenever I write anything like this it basically comes out like a poem. Also, I tend to make Scripture references throughout as well (feel free to look them up for yourself). Maybe this can help you give voice to your own prayers to God in your circumstances. Conveniently, considering the time of year (Lent), this lament is entitled, “Lament for Resurrection”…
“Out of the depths I cry to you; O Lord, hear my voice.
Hear my heart cries from within.
My heart is restless, it cries for life—lasting, full, enduring life (Psalm 143:11)—
like a tree planted on fertile soil near the river of your delights (Psalm 36:7-8).
You have granted me life in your Son, O Lord;
often times gathering me from the pit of despair.
I am there again, O Lord.
Come; renew, revive, redeem, and restore!
You are never late and always able.
Sustain me with the food from your banqueting table (Psalm 23:5).
My heart is sick, O Lord; it’s still beating
It’s been trampled on and left bleeding.
At least I know it’s still alive.
God, you have the power to cause it once again to thrive.
Your goodness and love have always been never failing
This helps me hope and rest assured in your prevailing.
You have been my God for all ages present and past (Psalm 90).
In you my heart and my hope will not be left against a stone, utterly dashed.
Lift me up, O Lord, and set me on my feet (Psalm 27:5 & 118:5 NRSV).
As I pray and praise you now, amidst defeat;
that says to my heart that you and I together will not be beat (John 11:40).”
To close, you can follow this link so a song we heard often on our trip that I think goes along with this well. It’s called “Broken Hallelujah” by The Afters. Maybe you can comment with a brief lament voicing a heart cry of your own below…