In Times of Deep Suffering: Worship Through Lament
“How long, O Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord , because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
ASK: Prepare. Am I ready to listen?
LOOK: Observe. What does God say?
- Who wrote this Psalm and who was it for (1a)?
- How many questions does the psalmist ask in a row (1b, 2)?
- What two-word phrase is repeated four times (1b, 2)?
- What does the writer ask God to do (3a) and why (3b, 4)?
- In what has the writer trusted (5a)?
- In what does the writer’s heart rejoice (5b)?
- What does the writer intend to do to the Lord (6a) and why (6b)?
THINK: Interpret. What does God mean?
- Is it appropriate for the writer to be asking these sorts of questions of God (1, 2)?
- In what sense does the writer believe God has forgotten him, that God is hiding his face (1)?
- What sort of enemies might the writer have had in mind (2b, 4b)?
- What does it mean for God to light up someone’s eyes (3b)?
- How is the writer able to transition to a position of trust, heart rejoicing, and singing so soon after expressing the pain of feeling forgotten (1)?
- In what ways has God dealt bountifully with the writer?
DO: Apply. How does God want me to respond?
- What makes it hard for you to express your pain to God, and when have you expressed it in a healthy way?
- What is something you have wrestled with God about in prayer?
- What does it look like to lament in a way that leads to trust?
- What sorts of comments/actions do we do that makes healthy lament in our community settings difficult (i.e. rude jokes, superficial platitudes, bragging about accomplishments, etc.), and what can we do to make it easier?
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1