Cries, Rants and Laments

Child development professionals claim that children begin crying with tears somewhere between three and four months of age. Later, toddlers can have what parents call meltdowns when frustration, illness, hunger, pain or tiredness overwhelm the children … or the parents. Gains in age or sophistication may or may not change the reactions seen above! My mom used to tell me I wore my heart on my sleeve. For example, TV episodes of Lassie made me cry. As I read Old Yeller to our sons, tears rolled down my cheeks, and I tried reading “The Gift of the Magi” aloud to my middle schoolers only once!

Crying or weeping moves our hearts when Hagar, not wanting to watch her son Ishmael die, sits opposite him, lifts her voice to God and weeps. Jesus will weep over Jerusalem and at Lazarus’ tomb. Peter weeps bitterly after his denial of Christ, and on Easter morning, Mary weeps as she stands outside Jesus’ tomb. Psalm 56:8 speaks of our tears being gathered in bottles or books. God knows our frame, meaning our physical and emotional being.

But somewhere in the 1970s I began meeting believers ranting that they could yell and scream at God because he was big enough to take it! These people, while enduring pain and grief, chose to rail at the God of the universe, the One who created and sustained the universe! And I did dare suggest that he also gave or denied our next breath! Our God is a consuming fire! (Deut. 4:24) Having too small a view of God (or an unbiblical view) can make him our BFF one minute and the person we block on social media the next. Human beings are in no position to blast into the Lord God!

Scripture uses a word that should come back into use: lament. This passionate expression of sorrow, pain or grief may include sobbing, moaning, wailing, keening, beating one’s chest. The issue is not the method of expression but rather, the recipient and the repairer. People deal with physical pain differently. Take a baby to the doctor for immunization shots and the response can be heard throughout the office.

I tend to say nothing. Doctors administering facet injections think I may have passed out, so they sometimes inquire, “Are you with me?” In my head I formulate, “No, I’ve just stepped out for a cup of tea.” Verbally, “I’m ok,” is the extent of my remarks. I have a soft moan that sometimes escapes my lips.

More than the forms of response, God hears (the recipient) and he cares (the repairer).

Let the writer of Hebrews inform us about the One who receives our laments (2:9-11 ESV)

[9] But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

[10] For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. [11] For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

And let the psalmist remind us of the One who repairs us through our grief, pain, and suffering. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Psalm 126:5

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