Lament–A Complaint with Hope

Last night we attended one of the Good Friday services at our church. I left it feeling different and better than I remember leaving a Good Friday service before.

We talked, sang, prayed and voiced many laments. We felt the pain of each other through struggles with depression, cancer, racism, and the list went on and on.

But we also talked about the difference between a lament and a complaint. A complaint is what you do when you are upset and you don’t believe anyone else cares and you don’t believe anyone has the power to fix it. A complaint is what you do when you believe that the manager of the restaurant doesn’t care about whether your steak was rare or raw (when you ordered medium well). A complaint is what you do when you see things happening in the government and in the world that you don’t agree with but you don’t think anyone can or is willing to fix it.

A lament is a complaint with hope. A lament is where you voice your concerns and you know someone is listening. Someone who has the ability and the willingness to do something about “it.” A lament is a complaint with hope.

I know my Dad has cancer. I know God will do something about it. I don’t know when but someday, somewhere, he will be healed.

I know that there are many Christians around the world who are being persecuted and really really struggling. I know God will do something about it.

I know…….

It changes your outlook. When you complain with hope, if your hope is in the maker of heaven and earth, then your complaint is a lament. It’s a realization of how broken this world is. It’s an understanding of the pain that you are facing and the pain others face.

All supported with the grace and love that comes from our Father. He is the one who ripped the curtain from top to bottom. He’s the one who raised not only Jesus but many others on this weekend. He’s the one who can take our lament and hear it and say, “Come my child, I’ll take care of this. I’ll take care of you. Not because you deserve it, but because I love you.”

So bring your laments to God. He can take them. He wants them. But do so with the hope and the belief that somehow, some way, His way, he will make all things new.

This weekend, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is the foundation that keeps all of our complaints and turns them into Laments. Because of Jesus, we can have hope. We do have hope.

Sunday’s coming. Tomorrow.

But the next Sunday is coming too. The time when all of our laments will see the hope and the grace that they have been founded on and all of the laments will disappear.

Because our hope is realized.

Yesterday was Friday. But Sunday’s coming.

And because of that, we have hope inside of the pain and suffering in our world, in our family’s world, in our nation and in all of God’s world.


That Moment

You struggle with it.  I struggle with it.

It’s on the news.   Pictures, stories, arrests, bombs, beheadings, smoke, fear.

It’s on the news.  Grown men insulting each other while insisting they can run the country.

It’s on the news.   Comparisons between political candidates and really really bad men from times gone past.

It’s on the news.  She says she can be President but she can’t keep top secret e-mails top secret.

It’s on the news.  People treating other people like they are “less” because of where they came from and how they look.

It’s not only on the news.   It’s the 33 year old cousin of a friend who died in a farming accident this week.

It’s not only on the news.   It’s the private devastation that ruins people’s lives.

It’s not only on the news.   It’s job losses, it’s medical diagnoses, it’s mental illnesses, it’s financial pain.

It’s not on the news.   Relational struggles.   PTSD.   PTSD from living with PTSD. 

It’s all over and it’s really really hard.

It’s hard to see the good.   You want to see the good but it’s hard to see the good.

And then you show up at church on Good Friday.

And you sit on the floor, not because there aren’t chairs but because it’s a small reminder of the pain that Jesus suffered for us.

And the minister begins to talk.  

And she talks about pain.

And she talks about how this has been a tough year – a tough year for a lot of people and a lot of places.

And at that moment, she reaches in and touches the pain.   She reaches in and shows that God sees our pain.

God gets it.

Jesus gets it.   He understands our pain.   He understands that there is wicked and evil in this world.

But He’s done something about it.   Not just one thing, not just one problem.

He’s taken care of the entire problem.   He’s attacked evil, destroyed it, paid the price.

That’s the moment.   That’s the moment where, with tears running down your face, you know God’s got this. 

And  He’s got that.

And He’s got the thing that feels like it knocked the wind out of your lungs and left you crumpled on the floor.

And He’s got your loved one who is too sick to pray on their own.

And He’s got the lunacy that appears to be afflicting the international and national scene.  

Jesus wept when He went to Lazarus’ tomb.   He knew what He was going to do, He knew that the grief would be short lived.

But He wept. 

He didn’t just try to smooth talk it over and say, “there there, it’s going to be okay.”

Jesus wept at the pain of people in this world.

He weeps about the pain that is happening to you, to me, to those we love.

But He did something and He will make all things new.   Maybe not when we want, maybe not where we want.   But He will.

And that’s the moment where Good Friday really became Good tonight.



As a follow up to Saturday’s post about pain, I’m reposting, with permission, something that John Pottenger did.    John is in the close circle of people who were and are impacted by the events surrounding the Christian radio host.

I’d say, “Enjoy,” but that sound too trivial.   Instead, I’ll say, “Be blessed.”

Lament from John Pottenger on Vimeo.

In 2010 I found this old abandoned church and was compelled to capture it on video. At the time I didn’t have a reason or purpose behind the project, and it wasn’t until recent events that it became evident to me what to use this video footage for.

The experience filming this broken church was both exciting and somber. My creative juices were running at full blast, while at the same time questions about the history and story behind this once new church came to mind. What had happened here? The wind that day was incredible. Like it was guiding my shots, and in some cases literally pushing the camera (and me) into the space. It was like I was invited in, and life was trying so hard to emerge a midst the rubble. In the film anything that moves (doors, ropes etc…) was not manipulated by me in any way. I simply filmed what was happening.

Back in 2010 I edited the visuals together without any music track or voice over added. I even went so far as to ensure that there was not music or sound playing in the background of my office in an attempt to stretch myself creatively and let the images guide the edit rather than allowing music or sound of any kind influence the edit. There was no script, overarching message or story to drive the order or timing of the edits. In many ways you could say it was spirit led. Each shot lasted as long or short as it needed to be, and the order of each image was put in place with nothing for me to reference or match. It was a very different and very organic editing experience… something I’ve never done before (or since).

Back in 2010 It was very difficult to create this video without a known purpose or reference to anything, but in the end the raw edit of just the visuals was finished. At that point I was just waiting for someone to do something more with it. I had hoped that possibly I could share it with someone else who would see the images and be inspired to possibly write music for it, or a poem or something to go with the images I had captured…. sadly it just sat untouched… unfinished.

With some recent tragic events in my life, I needed to find a way to cope. After nearly 4 years of almost forgetting about this film, It suddenly hit me that the purpose of this video was for this very moment and situation in my life. I quickly found some music and poured out my heart to God using the canvas of the visuals in this video as a foundation. I didn’t alter anything in the original edit of the video. It remains as I edited it in 2010. Now in this completed version I added music which miraculously matched perfectly without any alterations to the song. And of course my voice was added as well.

So here you have it. My heart. I hope through this video, you will find healing and hope that can only be found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.