"Lamentation is a part of worship. It is that part of us that cries out over the sorrow of the suffering, pain, and relational brokenness by which we have all been hurt.
...if the Lord walks there with me, what possible advantage could there be in conjuring another way?"
-Russ Ramsey, One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death
I read an article about a man's lamentations and suffering with Christ. And interestingly, it brought me relief.
It doesn't really make sense considering the circumstances: Within the past few months, my husband and I took a 3 week trip in Europe that we didn't have to pay for. We just bought a house with a down payment that was given to us free of charge. After closing on the home, Nooch and I ended up with double in our savings account despite the fact that I have not had a job for the past year.
One day on our trip oversees, I had overwhelming joy looking at these blessings. Praising Jesus. Amazed at his provision.
After all, doesn't all that sound like favor from God? Many would say so.
But deep down —even though I am genuinely grateful for these circumstances —something didn't sit well inside of me.
Because it's easy to praise God when I get the things I want.
And while these things are all blessings, it's easy to forget that they are not the point.
That God is not a genie that grants me my desires.
That my perspective of my Good Father is not dependent upon my circumstances, whether lovely or painful.
That the hard times remind me that even sunny days come and go, allowing me to appreciate them while they are here, and letting them go when the time comes.
I think I felt uneasy because I know deep down that the Kingdom of God is not grown according to the state of my well-being.
God's favor is not reflective of me getting what I think is best for my life. But when I forget that truth, a fear of losing the blessings grows within me. And I remember the harder times and the insecurity that comes with it.
And I begin to fear what life is like when things don't go my way.
So, I read about a man's encounter with Jesus in the midst of death and sorrow, and it filled me with hope.
"The Lord does not owe me a pain-free life.
But he does promise to be with me in it."
I remember I was sitting in the backseat of a car as we drove along the French countryside while I read those words by Russ Ramsey.
It reminded me that my hope is not dependent on the wonderful things that have happened these past couple of months. They won't last forever, and that's okay.
It reminded me of the way I wrestled in frustration with God last summer, when I felt called to quit my job. It made this year's provision all the sweeter.
It reminded me of the closeness of Jesus at the news of my father's cancer diagnosis last fall. During my grief, my heart was comforted like never before.
It reminded me that scripture calls Jesus a man of sorrows. That despite that natural desire to avoid pain at all costs, He embraced it.
A year ago, I would have been afraid to talk about suffering.
Today, it gives me hope to accept this beautiful reality.
I've tasted the hard times, the breaking of my heart. I've been a weary traveller on my life's journey, and I'm sure I'll be one again and again.
I've tasted the times of rest and growth and dreams that came alive. And I don't fear losing these good times, because my soul is satisfied in my Good Father —the One who waits embraces me in laughter and lamentation alike.