Be the Bridge (Day 2)
The Purpose of Lament
Acknowledgment of the truth of our country’s history with racism leads us toward lament. Lamenting something horrific that has taken place allows a deep connection to form between the person lamenting and the harm that was done, and that emotional connection is the first step in creating a pathway for healing and hope.
The twelfth chapter of the second book of Samuel helps us better understand the purpose of lament. There we meet David in the aftermath of his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Bathsheba’s husband. The prophet Nathan has just told David that the child born by Bathsheba would die.
In his lament for his sins and the loss of his child, David wrote Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Lament propelled David to confess his transgressions and fall on God’s mercy.
American culture teaches us not to sit in sadness and despair. Pretending that everything is okay, though, requires that we mask our true feelings. God doesn’t want our masks; He wants all of us, all our emotions, even our sorrow, our despair, and our grief. He wants to hold us close, He wants to wipe every tear from our eyes. And in that closeness, He wants to change us, change our hearts, and send us out to do His work.
After his time of lament, David went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. Lament prepared his heart for reconnection with God. It prepared him for action. It prepared him for praise, even in the darkness.
As agents of reconciliation, it’s never too late for us to acknowledge and lament racial injustice. It’s never too late to understand the historic depth of racism and to ask God to show His mercy and heal us. Because through lament, through the night of weeping, we can experience new joy in the morning.
Lord, teach me to lament for the pain done to others and to myself. Teach me to lament for my own sins that have kept me from loving others as you would have me love. Lord, have mercy. Amen.