How Long Lord? – The Child of God’s Relationship with Lament

Growing up, I often heard the phrase that we should be thankful and consider ourselves fortunate because it could always be worse. Cultural Christianity taught that God gives us so many blessings and to only focus on that. If we complain or focus on the negative, we are being ungrateful. You can imagine I found myself surprised when I opened the Bible one day to Psalms and found something that seemed an awful lot like complaining. Cries from David of ”Why have you forsaken me?” and ”How Long Lord” made me question everything I have been taught as to how to approach God. I see someone complaining and sometimes even doubting God amid these passionate cries.  

I was then introduced to the beauty that is lament worship. For many years, it was difficult to wrap my head around.  Yes, I believe we should be thankful, but also leave room for lament. This theological paradox was something I found difficult to balance for years. This past summer, I felt that proper lament was something that I truly practiced for the first time. 

A close family member of mine has had two battles with cancer in my lifetime. The constant surgeries they faced to make sure this terrible disease was gone for good caused them to have debilitating chronic pain for the past 6 years. Throughout this journey and being the one in the family who is pursuing ministry as a vocation, I made it my duty to always be there to support them and the rest of the family. Being the caretaker, I couldn’t complain or share my grief because I had to find the deeper meaning that God was trying to teach us through this suffering because that is how we would have hope. As we tried many different treatments to ease their suffering, I found myself continuing to numb to my grief, disappointment, and frustration.  

Fast forward to June of last year, I found myself in Ireland while my family member was getting an experimental operation to ease the pain. We prayed for healing, the operation went well, and we waited to see if it worked. After a few weeks, we found it did not ease their pain. A year later, they decided to go again. The doctor was confident, Christians from all around the globe were praying for them. We went in sure the pain would end, only to find out it once again, did not work. Which meant it was likely major life changes were on their way for my family.  

Having been taught about Lament from my Serge Apprenticeship classes, this was the first time I wanted to pursue telling God exactly how I felt. Between the challenging roles of managing an outreach team, daily facing my brokenness, having the tiredness from doing a year of cross-cultural work, and the many years of carrying the hurt and disappointment of this family member’s journey, I was at the end of my rope.

I was frustrated, angry, and weary. I nervously went into shouting the truth of the suffering I was feeling to God. Not holding back the honesty of the darkness I was feeling.

As I ended my lament, I unexpectedly felt comfort and compassion, that was beyond understanding from God. I watched as God reminded me of the innocence of the children that I was working with that week in Quantum Rock. How honest they were with their emotions and how they were always asking questions. As a child of God, how should I be any different? God’s gentle compassion met me in my grief and showed me how powerful good lament is, especially towards a Father who delights and cares for me. 

I often wonder what could happen if the Church would practice this more, not only in private, but in group settings as well. To be a safe place to passionately mourn our suffering, sin struggles, and many other forms of suffering and experience the compassion of the body of Christ coming alongside them, may even relate with them, and bear it with them as we take our suffering to the presence of a God who has unconditional compassion and care towards our pain. I wonder how many people would come to know Jesus if we truly practiced being a hospital full of wounded healers who make the ultimate hope of the Gospel known through our struggles. We don’t have to face the pain alone, we were never meant to, and we don’t have to have answers. One day, Jesus will return and make all things new and we rejoice in that hope, but my prayer is until that day, we can truly live as honest and gentle children of God. 


I found this song to be very encouraging during my lament journey and I hope that in addition to this blog, you would give it a listen and reflect on God’s compassion towards our suffering and honesty toward him –  Kind (Official Lyric Video) – Cory Asbury – YouTube 

Theme photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.