Learning the Song of Lament

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July 8, 2020

“Promise me I will feel joy again.”

These are the words I would say to my friend Emily after I lost my daughter Selah on February 29, 2020. This loss came after two previous miscarriages, all in nine months.

Emily had walked through some very tragic losses in her life, and despite her pain, she knew and believed that God was good. “Will I ever experience hope, or will I feel lost and helpless forever,” I asked? She would gently and confidently assure me that I would feel a deeper joy than before, that I would feel God’s closeness and grace more intimately, and even though I just lost another child, I would be more than OK. Our three babies are in heaven, and I have eternity with them because of my savior Jesus Christ.

I have dreamed of being a mother, and I have dreamed of watching my sweet husband be a father. Our hearts yearned to start a family, but we could have never imagined the pain that would accompany our journey to and through parenthood. Since losing Selah midway through my pregnancy and walking through the loss of two first trimester miscarriages, my understanding of Jesus, joy, and lament have wholly changed.

Ron, Justine, & Selah. Photo by: Caryn Ashley Photography

Lament is acknowledging pain and sorrow while recalling God’s promises and holding onto hope. Where there is brokenness, God’s grace abounds. We bring our complaints, fears, and anger to God, and then when we finish, we recall His promises. We remember His faithfulness. We beg and plead for Him to help us and meet us in our sorrow. And in our cries of desperation, we choose hope, trust, and grace.

I was in a hospital room, crying out in desperation for God to save my child, where I was met with an abundance of grace. My prayers moved from those of gratitude and blessing to lament — “Jesus, I am angry; I am hurt, and I am scared. Please save my baby. Please, Jesus. I know that you are able, and I know you are a God of miracles. Please, Jesus, save my child. But even if you don’t, you are still good. You are for me, and you will carry me through any storm because your steadfast love endures forever. In you, I place my hope.”

Where there is brokenness, God’s grace abounds.

Scripture is full of examples of lament. The Psalms of Lament show us that we can bring our pain to Jesus because he can be trusted. It’s the words yetbut, or then when our prayers change from recalling our pain to finding rest in his promises. It is then when we move from looking down at our own pain and up to the God who works all things together for good.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:5–6

After Jeremiah brings his complaints and heartache to God, he goes on to write in the Book of Lamentations:

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning.
Lamentations 3:21–22

This verse is on a necklace that I wear every day. When I see a stroller, a sweet baby, or a joyful mom, and my heart begins to be full of grief, I can remember that He is sovereign, and His love endures forever. Although my heart aches, I recall His promises, His steadfast love, and the hope that is assured to me by His life, death, and resurrection.

No matter where you are on your journey, learning the Song of Lament is like learning a new song from the author and perfecter of our life. Jesus was a man of sorrows and a man stricken by pain who knew lament all too well. He was a man of deep pain, loss, and rejection, and yet through it, His eyes remained fixed on the Father and His perfect plan for His life. A plan to redeem all of humanity through the most horrific act in all of history. On that rugged cross, His blood was shed for my salvation.

When I sit in our empty nursery, I am reminded of the pain of being childless, desiring, along with my husband, for a family of our own. I feel sadness when I think about our three babies in heaven that I never got to know. I have great fears, will I ever be a mom on earth? Will I ever experience a healthy pregnancy, one that doesn’t end in grief? But God gently reminds me, He is able, He can do miracles, but even if not, He is still good.

Jesus was a man of sorrows and a man stricken by pain who knew lament all too well. He was a man of deep pain, loss, and rejection, and yet through it, His eyes remained fixed on the Father and His perfect plan for His life.

Will you lean into the author of hope with your pain? Will you trust Him with your fears? Will you allow your soul to sing the Song of Lament with the Father who wants to comfort your most intimate pain?

He is our healer and our comforter, and He is for us. He goes before all things, and in Him, all things hold together for his glory and our good (Colossians 1:17).

When the waves of pain come, do not run away from the Father, but run towards Him. Bring your pain to Him, and He will establish, confirm, strengthen, and restore you. He can do all things.