My suitemate asked me if there were any weird OCD-ish habits that I have. At first, I couldn’t think of any. (Because, of course, there is nothing weird or OCD about me. Duh.) Then, a quick trip to Wal-Mart made me realize that I definitely do have weirdities (I definitely just created a new word there! Weird + Oddities = Weirdities. Don’t tell my brother, he won’t be impressed.) For example, I refuse to enter a door that is clearly labeled the Exit. I only enter through the entrances. As, in my opinion, everybody should. I also do not eat any candy unless it is red or pink or in any color family of the natural color of my tongue. I do not enjoy having a green tongue. And then there’s something else. Now I’m not entirely sure if this counts because this is really more of a pet peeve than anything else, but that is something I am hoping we can all overlook. Let me illustrate my final point with a quick story. So I was in the car with someone who recently told me that he didn’t see the relationship going anywhere, and in some tiny corner of my crazy brain, I decided that was the perfect opportunity to spill out every issue that I had been having in my life. So there I was, and our conversation went a little like this (keep in mind at this point, I was full on sobbing):
Him: Would you like a Kleenex?
Me: They are called tissues. WHAT IF THEY ARE PUFFS? THEY ARE CALLED TISSUES.
Don’t worry. I’m going to counseling on Thursday. My point in all this is that we do not know how to suffer well. We are not good at understanding how to lament. Unless you are Jewish, then you maybe understand better than I do. I don’t particularly enjoy crying. My mom doesn’t particularly enjoy it when I tell my congregation that I was crying so much to the point where the snot was uncontrollable.
The very Son of God cried out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I believe tears are prayers, and sometimes I really just need to cry out before God. I believe we serve a God who does not ask us to put our problems in a quick-fix microwave only to have it beep and have our answer in less than thirty seconds. We have a God who put on flesh and entered deep into our pain. Christ never once tells that we are too messy for him. Henri Nouwen writes: ““In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”
Paul tells us to “rejoice always,” so we end up thinking that as Christians, it is not alright to be broken. Let me tell you: Christians can suffer from depression and still be Christian. Christians can be hurting and crying and not be outside the Kingdom of God. We are living in the times of tension between the Kingdom that has already come in Jesus, but not yet come fully. I believe that each Sunday is a little Easter, and we can walk in the newness of life in Christ. However, that does not mean we will always victorious on this side of heaven (or, maybe, more correctly, on this side of the waiting for the second coming). We already have victory in Christ, yes, but we are still on earth. We are still going to cry and hurt.
Chuck DeGroat writes: “Lament is ultimately hopeful. Seems paradoxical, doesn’t it? The person sitting before you is weeping and wailing about his pain, and it is supposed to produce hope? There, of course, is a fine line between complaining and lamenting, but too often we dismiss the baby with the bath water. Dan Allender says that one who laments often looks like a grumbler or complainer, but that biblical lament is nothing of the sort. Instead, lament contains in itself the possibility of extraordinary hope, restored desire, a changed heart. Lament is, at its core, a search for God. It is not a search for answers. It is not an invitation to fix an ailment. Rather, lament enters the agony with the recognition that it might not go away for days, months, even years. And yet, the lament carries with it the hope that God will eventually show. Dan Allender puts it this way: ‘Lament is a search – a declaration of desire that will neither rest with a pious refusal to ache, nor an arrogant self-reliance that is a hardened refusal to search.’”
Cry out for God. Seek him through the pain. Lament.