Becca and I were on a train headed from Glasgow to London last Wednesday when we learned that there had been a terrorist attack in Westminster. My heart sank... sadness, anger, frustration. It was a year to the day since the terrorist attack in Brussels - which we also just missed by less than 24 hours - and I still struggle to wrap my head and my heart around why these things happen.
We made it into London without any problems and headed to our hotel just a few blocks from where the attack took place. Everything in the vicinity was shut down that evening and most of the day on Thursday, but on Friday we walked the Westminster Bridge and offered prayers for those who were impacted by what happened. Makeshift memorials with flowers and candles were already accumulating, and evidence of the car's crash into the gates outside Parliament was still there. I watched the faces of the people around me and felt comforted that I was clearly not the only one who felt so overwhelmed by it all.
I'm not going to attempt to write something here that will make us all feel better. I trust that God is still in control despite the fact that these terrible things seem to keep happening, but I'm still extremely unsettled by it. And I think it's important that we express that to God.
In their book, Rachel's Cry, Daniel Migliore and Kathleen D. Billman define lament as “the unsettling Biblical tradition of prayer that includes expressions of complaint, anger, grief, despair, and protest to God.” The Psalms are full of these types of prayers, yet I think we tend to shy away the practice of lament in our own lives because we feel uncomfortable being anything but grateful to God when we pray.
I'm learning that lament can be a vital way for me to deal with my sadness, anger, and frustration. It's not just complaining, but telling God that I trust in his ability to do something about it, and he meets me in these moments with profound grace and comfort.
Psalm 13 (NIV)
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.