[I’ve updated this post several times with more quotes and links. Lament is not pessimism. Lament is not devoid of hope. Lament is not complaining. Lament in the Bible is a liturgical response to the reality of a situation and it engages God in the context of pain and trouble. Yes, it is okay to lament.]
In some random past posts, I have touched on the idea of lament. Is it okay for a Christian to lament? Some think not. There can be a “put on a happy face” mentality among some believers; we must always look on the bright side. But the church needs to bring back lament and make space for it. Part of the problem is that lament is misunderstood as pessimism or devoid of hope. No. That is not biblical lament. I came across several tweets, that succinctly clarified:
“Lament is not devoid of hope. Lament is devoid of illusion.” – @WilliamHLamarIV
“Christian hope does not mean cessation of lament, since these two often go together.” – Kelly Kapic in Embodied Hope, page 32
“Sadness and hope are not binary.” – @triedwfire
More, seen on twitter:
“Naive optimism is not the same as hope. The former looks at a cross & says, ‘Maybe it’s not so bad.’ Hope sees death but believes in Resurrection.” – @sometimesalight
“Genuine hope is not blind optimism. It is hope with open eyes, which sees the suffering and yet believes in the future.” – Jurgen Moltmann
“Hope is to live in anticipation of meeting the Lord. It’s like throwing an anchor to the other shore and clinging to the rope.” – Pope Francis
(In other words, hope is an anchor for the soul.)
MORE (articles, book excerpt, book review, sermon):
Quoting “happy” passages at people in pain. Jesus lamented – so maybe we should lament too.
A sermon I preached: Waiting. The place of lament in the Christian life. Read it or listen to it; based on Lamentations.
A book review: Prophetic Lament, A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah.
What is the difference between lament and complaining? Thoughts and links HERE.
What is HOPE? A sermon based on 1 Peter 1:3-9. Read or listen HERE.
Christians should not be optimists…or pessimists. A sermon based on Romans 8:18-27. Read it HERE.