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Lament and Praise ~ Sorrow and Joy

For many people, especially this year, Christmas is a time of sorrow and joy. So many people are suffering loss. For some people their sorrow is rooted in separation that is caused because of the circumstances of the pandemic. For some their sorrow is grieving the loss of loved ones who have moved on to glory. The grief is real and painful as we remember those who are not with us, especially as we try to hold onto, and hold out to others, the HOPE and JOY of JESUS.

‘Lamenting’ means ‘expressing grief, disappointment, unfairness’. It is actually an important part of the story of all the people who follow God. It is at the heart of the Biblical narrative. Take a look in the Psalms, or the Prophets, or the Gospels, and will you find people wrestling with the reality that they were enduring, and the reality of what God has promised them and sometimes, crying out to God, ​“God, you must do something.”

However, the point of lamenting is to bring us to a place of praise and thanksgiving. At this time of year we remember Immanuel: God with us. Jesus demonstrates His love by living with us through the sadness of Good Friday, the seeming loss of hope in the grave and the victorious resurrection of Easter Sunday. He shows us how to live in the tension of lament and praise, sorrow and joy. And that is how we hold onto HOPE and JOY – in and through JESUS.

As I have been meditating on the mystery of finding the balance between lament and praise, I found a number of resources that have helped me to reflect on this. It is something that we need to be thinking about all the more as we face a New Year with the continuing pandemic and the long term consequences.

Very often sorrow and joy are inexplicably mixed together. But that’s OK – because that is where we find Jesus.

I hope you will find the following songs, articles and video clips helpful as you receive the Lord’s promise:

I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. Jeremiah 31: 13 NLT

“Wow! What a year! I can’t believe I’ve managed to get through it. Seems like everything that could have gone wrong did, or nearly did. There have really been some tough spots and dark times… Actually how did I make it when it was darkest. Clearly I did because it’s Christmas. I guess sometimes you just have to cling on.” Based on ‘What a year!” by Stuart Gray this 3 minute end of year film shares about the hope we can have in God despite the bad things life can throw at us.

The Sweetest Gift

I’m not gonna lie
Christmas really hurts this time
Cause you’re not here to celebrate with me
Tears fill my eyes
The memories flood my mind
As I place your ornament upon our tree
Although this year I have a broken heart
It gives me hope and joy as I remember where you are
You’re with the Son of God
You’re with the Prince of Peace
You’re with the one who’s celebrating
And that thought amazes me
Sometimes I still break down
Grieving that we’re apart
But the sweetest gift is knowing where you are
You’re with the Son of God
Got your picture in the frame
And a stocking with your name
Oh God knows it’s been hard letting go
And I can’t bring you back but I’ll see you again
And all that thought is healing to my soul
I’ll miss making angels with you in the snow
I guess instead you will be singing with them all around God’s throne

The Sweetest Gift By Songwriter: Craig Aven. Performed by: The Piano Guys

“Christians and churches need to strike a particular tone. We shouldn’t try to be cheerful, or to peddle a false optimism. We shouldn’t pretend we can soon, if at all, go back to how things used to be. We should grieve with those who grieve. As Ecclesiastes says, there is ‘a time for sorrow and a time for joy’ (3.4) – and now is a time for sorrow.… But we are also people of hope… Our hope, though, doesn’t rest on human skills or achievements. We pray that those working on Covid will succeed, and that the world won’t face more widespread disease, poverty and death. But the point of Lamentations is that God keeps us anyway – even in the worst of situations, we aren’t abandoned. We don’t need the world to be as it was; we need God to be as he is – and that’s the promise of this book. Lament is human, and biblical. But so is hope, grounded in a faithful God. As the hymn says: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.'”

Here’s to the ones that we got 
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not 
‘Cause the dreams bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through 
Close to the ones here today 
Close to the ones that we lost on the way 
‘Cause the dreams bring back all the memories 
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you
There’s a time that I remember, when I did not know no pain 
When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same 
Now my heart feel like December when somebody say your name 
‘Cause I can’t reach out to call you, but I know I will one day, yeah
Everybody hurts sometimes 
Everybody hurts someday, 
But everything gon’ be alright 
Go raise your voice and say,
Memories bring back, memories bring back you
There’s a time that I remember when I never felt so lost 
When I felt all of the hatred was too powerful to stop
Now my heart feel like an ember and it’s lighting up the dark 
I’ll carry these torches for ya that you know I’ll never drop, yeah
Everybody hurts sometimes 
Everybody hurts someday, 
But everything gone’ be alright 

“Maroon Five” Words and Music by Adam Levine, Jon Bellion, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Stefan Johnson, Michael Pollack, and Vincent Ford 

“We, as a church, as a family, need to be able to deal with the realities that people are experiencing in the light and grace of who God is. We cannot simply rush by and ignore the hurts and pains of the individuals that call Jesus Saviour and Lord. Therefore, some of us are going to have to rethink the way in which we engage in worship, in reflection, in how we share the story of Jesus’ grace and love, together. We are going to have to give space to lament”

Samantha is an Inspire Missioner and, as Administrator for the Inspire Movement, she is privileged to gather resources and recommendations from around the Movement. If you have resources that you can recommend that will help to inform, equip, and encourage people in the Inspire Movement we would love to hear from you: [email protected]

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