Lamenting with the Psalms

I shared in a previous newsletter what we have been doing at Global Action in response to the pandemic this past year. Our regional directors have mobilized resources and stepped in to meet basic needs in their communities, and we are so thankful for your generous support as we continue meeting these critical needs.

But today, I want to address the issue of the pandemic more personally. Each of us has experienced the loss of “normal”, of the life we are accustomed to. For some of us, the loss has been very personal—the loss of close family or friends. And many of us have experienced multiple losses, which at times has felt overwhelming. This has been true for me, and one of the places I have gone for encouragement is the book of Psalms. I was surprised by what I found there.

I certainly found comfort in passages like Psalm 23; but more than that, I was challenged and encouraged by the rawness of emotion that these Old Testament saints expressed in their struggle with loss and disappointment. Nearly half of the Psalms were lament Psalms, many of which were corporate and meant to be used during worship services. Personally, I’ve never been a part of a service that sang a “lament song” with the same level of raw honesty expressed in the lament Psalms. I wonder why that is. Maybe we are meant to share our pain with each other. I think the Swedish proverb says it well, “shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is sorrow halved.”

Something happens when we don’t share our grief. We feel alone in our pain, and the loss is often amplified. But when we honestly share our pain with people we trust, the connection is a key ingredient of the healing process. We realize that we are not alone in this journey, and that others will walk alongside us. We discover that others have been through similar losses and are on the other side of their pain. That gives us hope to keep going.

The lament Psalms give us permission to come to God with a deep level of honesty and raw emotion. In this season of loss, my prayer for us all is that we will grieve well, by drawing closer to each other and by boldly and honestly coming before the throne of grace to a Father who will never leave us or give us up, despite our pain or our doubt.

Together in Christ,

R.J. Koerper
Dean of International Faculty


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