Monday’s Ministry Musing: Do We Have a Place for Lament?

…the language of lamented is seriously neglected in the church.  Many Christians seem to feel that somehow it can’t be right to complain to God in the context of corporate worship when we should all feel happy.  There is an implicit pressure to stifle our real feelings because we are urged, by pious merchants of emotional denial, that we ought to have “faith” (as if the moaning psalmists didn’t).  So we end up giving external voice to pretended emotions we do not really feel, while hiding the real emotions we are struggling with deep inside.  Going to worship can become an exercise in pretence and concealment, neither of which can possibly be conducive for a real encounter with God.  So, in reaction to some appalling disaster or tragedy, rather than cry out our true feelings to God, we prefer other ways of responding to it.  –(Christopher J.H. Wright, The God I Don’t Understand, 52)

When you consider that almost half of the Psalms are songs of lament, I think Wright may be on to something.  Is there a place for lament, complaining, questions, longing, etc. in our churches?  Or are these to be stuffed down and dropped off at the door so we can engage in” “worship”? 

Is it possible that the Lord does not want us to leave our baggage at the door but instead to bring it into the sanctuary and offer it up—jaded questions, hopeful discontent, broken longing, indeed every range of emotion—in lament to the Lord of glory? 

Of course this doesn’t mean that we always come with lament.  Sometimes we come with thanksgiving.  Sometimes we come with exuberant joy. Often we come with a mixture of all of these.  But does your church have a place for nearly half of the Psalms?  Or do we only corporately engage in the “happy” ones? 

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