Practicing Active Lament

Right before college finals, I remember thinking, I wish Jesus would just come back tomorrow. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about life and studying. Of course, I still studied and put in the work because that’s not how faith, Jesus’ return, or the imagery of Revelation really work.

IMG_2095I grew up being told that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. Sometimes being a Christian is described as being Jesus with “skin on.”

So when Christians pull out the verses of lament after a tragedy, I often wonder, why? Why are we willing to lament and wish for the return of Jesus if we don’t take the action part of his message seriously?

Jesus didn’t come to this earth to lament. He came to actively bring about a better way. He came to heal and to disrupt and to preach against the comfortable ideas of the time. He was subversive and made people squirm. He wasn’t popular.

My heart hurts with the news – again. I feel at a loss as to how to communicate with my congress whose pockets are lined by the gun lobby. I wish I could take the easy way out and send thoughts, prayers, and wishes that Jesus would come tomorrow.

Instead, I’m putting in the work of redemption. I’m raising kids who question, push back and don’t believe in the status quo. I’m educating myself on laws and the lobbying industry. I’m getting involved in efforts to change the way we do things. Yes, I’m still lamenting and praying. I’m even sending thoughts and prayers for the community reeling from tragedy.

But I’m remembering to DO justice, love kindness, walk humbly, and be the actual hands and feet of Jesus.

How do you practice active lament? How will your prayers move you toward action?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “why.”

24 thoughts on “Practicing Active Lament

  1. Love your words today. I am reminded of the Matthew West song “Do Something.” I’m with you, sister. I’m raising my children to fear God, to stand for justice, so compassion and integrity. Thank you for you words.

  2. Annie, came by to return the visit. Action. I don’t agree with complete gun control – I just can’t go there. But we must have the courage of our convictions, don’t we?

    1. Indeed, having courage is difficult. I think you’re right – I don’t know anyone who wants full gun control. But I definitely think we need to look critically at reforms… Have you read “The Second Amendment” by Michael Waldman? Such an eye-opening book for me.

  3. This is my first year practicing lent. So far what has occurred to me is that there is a time to hold the posture of lament for a broken world without taking any immediate action. Action and movement and justice is an absolute necessity as we grow and change and evolve into our life on earth as it is in heaven mentality, but I am also really soaking into the practice of pause and lament to know that I don’t have all of the answers, to know that my heart has not hardened and the brokenness scares me and hurts me and I empathize for those that are victimized. For me thus far my heart towards Lent (of course, it has only just begun this season) is a time to pause and really feel the bright lament, as if it is a season to sit in it all, and then symbolically as Jesus rises from death to life, I anticipate a rising of strength within me to continue steps forward to push, to step beyond limits to voice for the next generations. This is what I am seeing and feeling in this new to me practice. — It took me a few days to write about my first Ash Wednesday experience because I heard the next day about the tragic school shooting in Florida, I felt so broken, as if nothing I could do or say was even worthwhile, as mothers and fathers mourn their tragic losses, then I realized that is what lament is all about, taking the time to pause, going against the grain of perfect timelines and schedules and constant movement. I spoke to my children about what happened at the Florida school and we talked about plans on what to do if their school ever had to lock-down. It hurts to even have this conversation with them, something that my parents never needed to address with me when I was a child. Thank you sharing your perspective on lent. This is all new to me, so I am listening and learning. I can see how lament is active and maybe even sometimes something that is active within a body, a stirring, a growing, an acknowledging.

    1. I think sitting in lament is such an important part of how we process the brokenness of this world. I also think we need to be cautious about staying in lament, though. Without action, lament loses its depth and empathy. Have you read “Prophetic Lament” by Soon-Chang Rah? I’d highly recommend it – he does such a good job of talking about the need in this culture for lament. And the results of taking time to acknowledge it.

    2. I really appreciate your words as well today. I believe that we often have knee-jerk rage reactions before even consoling those who need to be consoled and yes lamenting. You have given me much to think about. Thank you.

  4. So so good friend! I’m right there with you. I want to truly and actively live out those words from Micah 6:8. I’m in the 50 spot this week.

  5. Annie, I am so grateful for your post. You are so thoughtful in your approach. We need to teach our children well and act.
    Thanks for sharing in a comment “Prophetic Lament” by Soon-Chang Rah. I am going to look for a copy.

  6. This is great Annie. I do believe prayer has power and that what we’re called to do is not always a grand gesture but maybe small acts of faith that equal big changes over time. If everyone swept their own sidewalk the whole world would be clean…and sometimes our neighbor might need to borrow our broom.

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