From the DayBreaks archive, August 2010:
If you’ve read the Psalms at all, you’ve encountered songs of lament. Lamentations is essentially a long lament. Michael Card has written a book recently titled The Language of Lament, and it shows that “lamenting” can be a very valuable, and indeed, Biblical, activity. At times I’m not sure where the dividing line between lamenting and complaining are, but there seem to be some very clear distinctives to me:
- Audience: we complain to other people, David and Jeremiah lamented to God;
- Purpose: in our complaining, often we simply want to just go on complaining, but in lamenting, one seems to be seeking understanding and wisdom;
- Objective: complaining is generally done to elicit sympathy from people – lamenting’s purpose is to plead one’s case to God and seek relief.
I recently ran across what I thought was an excellent modern day lament and wanted to share it with you.
On June 22, 2007, a hit-and-run incident left Daniel McConchie paralyzed from the waist down. Daniel says that since that traumatic day, “God has not healed my affliction, but he has taught me the power of lamenting to him about it.” He adds: “To our detriment, one of the most overlooked portions of Scripture in modern-day America are the psalms of lament. However, David repeatedly demonstrated that laments make obvious our intense faith in God, that he can and will intervene in our time of need. They demonstrate just how deep our relationship with the Father really is. After all, we don’t communicate our grief and mourning to strangers. We save that for those we truly know and love.”
With these words in mind, here is a lament Daniel wrote nearly a year after the accident, on April 9, 2008:
Oh Lord, my God! Why do you wait to show up?
I cried out to you when trouble struck.
I asked for your restoration.
I know that you heard me. I know that you answered.
Yet nothing—nothing of meaning happens again today.
Infinitesimal changes dog my days.
I am hounded by the prayers of the fickle
Looking to me to prove their faith.
Wearily I drag on
Tiring of the waste, hating the horror,
The pain, the suffering, the never-ending trial.
The endless story drags on, and on, and on.
When will the clouds break?
When will the night cease?
When will the tunnel end?
When will you smile again?
What a two-edged sword your voice is!
You speak. And then wait?
You give hope. And then vanish into the mist?
Have you forgotten me? Have more important things arrested your attention?
Hope turns black. This evil I have seen.
Nightly my dreams show me restored,
And in the morning I am broken again
Cursed to relive the horror of suffering’s first day.
Please slay me! Blot my name from the ranks of the living!
For in the grave can I finally rest.
My wife can have her dreams again;
My children a father who can provide as I should.
I wasted my youth. I dismissed the joys I should have embraced.
Now I am a mere spectator
Pretending to be consequential while others take my place.
A position I threw away one fateful day.
How long? How long must I wait here in the middle?
Between healing and hell,
Between heaven and horror,
I am unable to move … unable to see … lost in eternal confusion.
My demons torment me
Batting me about like a toy, I spin and crash in endless cycle.
I no longer know which way is up,
Which way is right, which way to go.
Which way is the path to life?
Is it up an un-climbable mountain?
Or on a path tread by all but me
And the others who are broken like I?
Surely it is impossible for me alone to find
And impossible for me to transverse.
Alone I am finished,
Dust left for the broom.
Who am I that God should remember me?
My only salvation is that he should not forget his image,
Or let his word be broken.
He is faithful to us because he is faithful to himself.
There is nothing I can do,
In no way can I help.
I sit in the ruins and wait,
And take comfort in those who lie in the ashes with me.
But one day, by his promise, I will stand;
Restored as his message of hope is fulfilled.
The Lord will turn this horror into a fading dream,
And I will honor his name forever.
Previously, I’ve suggested you write your own Psalms to God. Perhaps today you need to write a lament.
PRAYER: Thank You that we can be honest with You and find comfort in Your Presence! Heal those who hurt this day, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>