Feb 9 2020 Lamentations Intro - For Crying Out Loud!

Psalm 102:1 A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament (complaint) before the LORD. Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Lent is approaching. I’m going to start 1 Thessalonians next week through Easter. And during this time, we’ll have people reading a psalm of lament. I’ll hand out a list of laments – and there is an entire book called Lamentations. About 1/3 of the Psalms are psalms of lament. I’ll give you that list and you can read one per day.

Jesus prayed a prayer of lament – a psalm of lament – on the cross.

What is a lament?

A lament is basically a complaint.

It is a passionate expression of sorrow, grief, disappointment and regret.

In 1/3 of the psalms as laments – and if we look at popular Christian music today – there are some that are laments, but in general, it is a lost practice. At least publicly. Privately, we do this more than we realize – and we probably feel bad about it. We are told to not complain. Never complain about your job/boss/food - but the Bible shows people lamenting.

A prayer. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. 2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. (Psalm 142:1)

The spiritual practice of lament gives us a pattern to pour out our sorrows and disappointments to God.

We feel like there are things that God has not done for us – or we feel there are things that God has done TO us.

Laments use HONEST and sometimes RAW language. They are not always prim and proper. Sometimes the English translations CLEAN up the language – maybe a little too much.

God can handle our complaints, and our colorful metaphors.

Laments lead to mercy and grace.

When you encounter disappointments, you can’t skip a step. You can’t just say, Praise the Lord – because it is in the Bible.

It is not about just getting it out to feel happier about ourselves.

There is no specific timeframe for a lament. It depends on your personality and the depth of the lament you are experiencing.

Sometimes the psalmist is writing about an experience that has gone days/months/years.

This is a sermon style from 20 years ago – 6 steps to lament:

1 - Acknowledge your emotional pain

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1)]

When is the last time you prayed like that? We could read a prayer like that and say, man, this guy has a problem! OF COURSE HE DOES.

In order to acknowledge your emotional pain – you must first search your heart to discover the emotional pain and where it comes from. In reality – we don’t always want to go there.

Once you discover the emotional pain – allow yourself to feel the full weight of your emotions – not run from it!

Feel the full weight.

I heard a quote – had nothing to do with lament. “Emotions or feelings are a terrible master, but an important messenger or teacher.”

We are not to be controlled by our emotions and feelings – but they have something to say like a messenger. Something to teach us. Anger/regret/bitterness/sorrow – teach us about our inner being. We need to allow ourselves to feel the weight of it – and allow God to feel the weight of it.

Give Him the full weight of our emotions and feelings. He can handle it – there is not a feeling or emotion you have had that He is not okay handling.

Don’t mistake your feelings about God for God Himself.

Turn to God, not away from Him

Listen to my words, LORD, consider my lament. 2 Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:1)

Sin and Failure can make us hide from God – and in those times – we most need to turn to God and where God wants us to turn to Him the most. To do that – we must have a deep understanding of God’s love and mercy.

Psalm 130 hear my voice – if you should mark iniquities, who could stand – there is forgiveness with Thee.

God – if You were to point out our failures – who could stand? There is forgiveness. Our love for God does not come from doing well all the time – but out of His love and forgiveness. In those worst of times – God wants relationship with us even when we are at our worst. Kind of like a toddler – wants that parent to come

Bring Your Complaint – it is okay to complain before God!

A prayer. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. 2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. (Psalm 142:1)

Here is how we do it – first – bring a specific complaint. You’ll see this in the psalms – specific complaints. Humility – not arrogance. Sometimes I say things like – God, my mind knows you are good – but right now, I’m not feeling it! Not experiencing this good God. I know you are – because it says so – but I’m not seeing it.

Don’t mistake humility with the words we choose or the tone we use. You can complain – in humility to God, with raw emotion and raw language – and you can use all the right language and tone and be arrogant with God. Sometimes it is just a personality.

4 kinds of complaint we bring to God –

Why? Why did you let this happen? Why did you not answer my prayer?

Where? Where were you when I needed You?

How long?! How long must this go on? How long? Sometimes it is LONG! (The sorrow and disappointment)

When will you act? Finally do something?

We need to lament when it does not seem like God is acting the way the Bible says He is.

When it doesn’t seem to line up – when our experience of God is different. In times of change, it is not time to feel guilty, but lament.

It is a time to make a case against God. You see this in Lamentations and Job – and it leads to a greater understanding of WHO God is, and a greater experience of who God is. You will get there only to the extent that you let it pour out – so if you want to get to the greater understanding – pour it out all the more.

4 - Discover Mercy and Grace – this is the step we can’t skip –

Lamentations – great verses – The Lord’s lovingkindness never cease and compassions never fail – new every morning.

Right in the middle of this destruction of Jerusalem – the Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease

To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. (Psalm 28:1)

5 - Make Your Request

Listen to my words, LORD, consider my lament. 2 Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:1)

You would be amazed at some of the requests – and how they are made to Jesus.

Call God to action – arise on our behalf!

Help! Lord, save me!

Justice and Equity – you see it throughout the Psalms.

Restoration of what has been lost

A plea to God to speak – you see this throughout the psalms – give direction! We need to hear from You!

The removal of shame! So many psalms – let me not be ashamed!

6 - Move Toward Trust (and Hope)

9 I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?" 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Move toward trust – TRUST – Active Patience. Trust and Hope – Active patience.

One word comes up a lot – especially in the psalms – WAIT. Wait on God – wait on the Lord – sometimes the trials last an awfully long time – we need active patience – waiting and hoping in God actively, not passively.

With this – one thing that helps me to see this – Remember how God has acted in the past. Even if it has taken a long, long time – God has been faithful.

What prevents us from lamenting> This is not an experience of your spirituality. I think sometimes we are afraid – or have been told not to. To enter into a lament, we need to acknowledge that something in our discipleship in following Christ is not working. Something about the way we have learned over the years – and have held to our following Christ – isn’t working anymore. And it is only when we are able to say – Yeah, this isn’t working, in this new situation – with what is going on now – that we can really enter into this process. It is hard to acknowledge.

Deconstruction. This can cause a disruption in our spiritual life. None of us likes it. But sometimes we need it.

Yesterday at the Men’s Breakfast – a good Christian businessman – but had a rough path getting there – - and not 40 years about – but 4-5 years ago- went through a horrible divorce – estrangement from his kids – but God has worked.

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?

2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,

Having sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;

Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

4 And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;

My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

This was not a 3 minute thing – because he says – How long, O Lord – but God will lead Him through this.

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