It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; Therefore will I hope in Him.

Lamentations 3:22-24

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What a kindness to find these words in the midst of a long passage of lament. All the world is wrong. The burden of grief and the weight of worry are too heavy.

The words I find in Lamentations 3 cut like a knife with a pain I have felt myself. This isn’t even an exhaustive list, but doesn’t it feel heart-wrenching and exhausting?

  • I waste away. My bones are broken. I am enveloped by bitterness. (vv.4-5)
  • Darkness closes in. I feel trapped and alone. Does He even hear my prayers? (vv.6-8) 
  • My chains are heavy. Which way do I go? (v.7, 9)
  • I am desolate. Desperate. Depressed. (v.20)
  • I know no peace. No happiness. No good. (vv.17-18)
  • I cannot endure. I am consumed. My hope is lost. (v.18)

I can feel the pain in the pages, some all too similar to the words I have scrawled on the pages of my own journal.

The author of Lamentations (most likely Jeremiah) writes about one of the darkest times in Jewish history. Around 586 BC Jerusalem was savagely overthrown by the Babylonian army. Jeremiah doesn’t hold back when he describes the pain and suffering of his people. His words help us understand the power and purpose in biblical lament as we wrestle with our own hard questions during times of pain and suffering.

What is lament? 

Lament is a loud cry, a wail, a passionate expression of grief. But it is not only sorrow. It is grief, but it is not wasting away in grief. Lament is a prayer offered in pain that leads to deeper trust. It gives voice to a longing for restored hope. Lament moves us along “the path from heartbreak to hope. (Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, 28)

I am walking that path with trembling footsteps. The way forward is often unclear, and at times, it is very, very dark.

And yet…as I lift my eyes to the morning sun, I remember. I call to mind the nature and character of my God:

You are the God who is faithful to give mercy and compassion.

I know You. I know Your faithfulness, Your mercy – the same mercy that saved my soul from the wages of sin.

Notice how the Amplified Bible describes God’s faithfulness: great and beyond measure.

That means I will never reach a point where He says, “Well, that’s it. My faithfulness is all used up. That steadfast love you were counting on? You’ve drained it dry.”

It is a divine impossibility. Even when I feel spent, nothing stops His faithfulness. Nothing and no one can prevent His mercy and compassion from reaching me. Day after day, He pursues me with faithful love and mercy.

Nothing is wasted. No tears are lost. The broken up soil (and my broken heart) are for my good. Seeds of hope are planted there. At the right moment the seed will swell and break, and reach up towards the light.

He is faithful to give mercy, even when, especially when I cannot endure and hope seems lost. Even then, because of His mercy, I am not consumed.

Heartbreak is real; so are His promises

Lament acknowledges that the pain of heartbreak is very real, but it also rehearses the truth. Truth is an anchor during the dark, storm-tossed night. Truth reminds us to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Lament leads us down the path that turns wails into worship, sung loud over the deafening waves.

I know the long night of the soul, the constant sting of a heart, both numb and throbbing. I try to stir up the flame, to reignite the fire that once burned. To pick up my cast down soul. But what if this cup of sorrow is not meant to pass from me just yet? What if there is more happening beneath the surface that I can’t see? More hope-seeds to plant before I bear fruit again? What if lament is the way forward, “the path through the messy wilderness of pain?” (Vroegop, 84).

Hard and good are not opposites

So often I just want the heaviness to lift. I want to reach the other side and feel the sun’s warmth on my face. But shall I accept only good things from the Lord and never anything hard? (Job 2:10) If I believe He graciously gave Christ on my behalf, will I believe His designs in the dark are also for my good? Do I believe, as the scriptures say, that He is a shield, the giver of grace and glory, that He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11)? My children groan when I tell them again, “Good and hard are not opposites.” God is good, even in the hard.

Rehearse the Truth

I don’t want to waste the time in the soul’s night, but instead lean in and listen for the Holy Spirit whispers, to trust and believe even in the hard. To rehearse the Truth to my heart as many times as it takes. He was there in the original dark, hovering over the great abyss. I know He’s here in mine, covering, protecting, leading, enveloping. I know this because He reminds me in His word that there is no where I can go to escape His presence. He’s here with me, taking me by the hand, and leading me. Darkness and light are alike to God. Psalm 139:7-12 

As I fumble around in the valley of deep darkness, as I grope and groan, sometimes I am afraid. But He offers me courage. He is with me. I bump up against His rod and staff, as He protects and gently guides, and I am comforted, (Psalm 23:5).

Your consolations bring me joy, Lord! (Psalm 94:19). Even when the cloud of black gloom does not lift I will cry aloud Your song of hope. Defiant hope! You are with me! You are the Light that consumes the dark!

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation, and my God…By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me…”

Psalm 42:5, 8

Sing it and Say it

Sing on through the night, Lord! I’m listening. Teach me the words that I may sing them back to You.

Beloved, don’t be afraid of lament. Faithful God will meet you there. As sure as the sun will rise again, new morning mercies will light up the long, dark night of the soul. Hope will shine again.

Say it, Soul! Say it loud for your own heart to hear, and let it give a great leap:

You are the God who is faithful to give mercy and compassion. Therefore. Therefore! I am not consumed!

You are my portion, and You are my Hope. You are the God who withholds no good thing. Even when the long night lingers, I wait expectantly for You. I will harvest hope again.


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  • I like this, Amy. This is the cry of a wounded soul that is clinging to the life-giver for strength. He has promised to never leave us.
    My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.

    • Thank you, Ed. We cling to His promises with the very strength He provides — yet another gift of His mercy and grace. Thanks for reading and thanks for the encouragement.

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