Tim Basselin - October 22, 2017
What Lament Looks Like
From Series: "Good Grief"
We avoid pain and grief as much as possible. When faced with someone else's grief, we avoid or offer platitudes. But the book of Lamentations invites us to sit with grief, to enter into the prophetic process of Lament. In this series, we'll explore how to grieve and how to be a friend to the grieving. Ultimately, we'll see how the process of lament invites us to be agents of healing in the larger world.
More From "Good Grief"
I’m a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, and I usually begin my classes with a devotional. Sometimes we pray for one another. Sometimes we talk about a piece of art or a poem. In choosing a devotional, I try to be sensitive to where my students are–maybe they’re feeling the pressure of the end of a semester or maybe something is occupying our cultural attention, like Houston and then Florida and the Peurto Rico and then Vegas. I try to create a space where we can at least speak these things out into the open.
Two and a half years ago I entered class with this intention. I pulled up a couple of news stories just to lay out the facts from the weekend. As I began to list some details, 21 Coptic Christians kneeling on a beach in Libya, executioners standing behind them with swords, I began to cry. I had been reading about this for a few days. I had been praying for the families affected and for the Coptic church.
Suddenly, speaking it aloud in my class, these kneeling men became my brothers and I began to lament.
This lamenting meant a couple of things. First, it was a dignifying of their humanity and a return of mine. It’s very difficult in an age of constant news to feel the humanity of disasters or evil actions around the world. We’re not built for constant grief. But this weeping also meant I had some serious questions for God. These 21, faithfully serving, choosing death over a denial of Christ! And yet it seemed like God was denying them. Is this the God I want to serve?
Today we’re introducing a new series on lament. Maybe you’ve had times where you have experienced disasters in your life that made you question God. Or maybe you’ve avoided some difficult questions and feelings about disasters, because you fear everything will come crashing down if you begin to question. If so, you’re not alone. We have built a society, and often even our religion, that tries to avoid pain at any cost.