Power of the Lament


So sorry for the long gap between blogs. Life happened. It’s taking me awhile to adjust to life on dialysis. Nausea, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, and mental confusion have been my constant companions these past few weeks. Pretty sucky stuff!

I’ve also wrestled with discouragement and a bout of depression as we’ve been waiting to get back on the kidney transplant surgery list. My wife (who is my perfect match and is graciously willing to donate one of her kidneys to me) came down with laryngitis one week before our scheduled transplant surgery. The doctors cancelled the surgery and it took three weeks of labs, trying to coordinate communication between two health care providers and getting sign-offs by specialists to get us back on the schedule. And by the time we got all the “oks” to move ahead, the soonest date we could re-schedule a transplant was: June 18th!

Man, that sucks! I mean, yeah, I’m supposed to “embrace the suck” but I didn’t think I’d have to embrace that much suck!

I could totally relate to the Psalmist, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:2-3)

Don’t you love the Psalms? They give us “templates” on how to pray, how to praise, how to intercede, how to worship, and even how to approach God in our suckiness.

Over a third of the Psalms are called “lament” Psalms. These are Psalms that address God when life sucks. Until recently, I totally hated reading the lament Psalms. As an optimist, I felt they were total “downers.” I didn’t want to hear about David’s problems or Asaph’s issues. I just wanted to read “happy” Psalms. I want to hear how good and great God is, not about sad things or hard things or angry things.

But when life sucks, there’s nothing better than using a lament Psalm to help express what you’re feeling. They’re so authentic and real; no holds barred. The Lament Psalms express raw emotions, even graphic descriptions of what’s really on in the Psalmist’s minds as they suffer. When you’re going through suckiness, it’s hard to find words to describe what you’re feeling on the inside. The Lament Psalms give us a “vocabulary” or a “soup starter” to get what’s on the inside of us out in the open.

Even more important, the lament is the ONLY way to transform suckiness into something that can be redeemed. That’s because, in a lament, we’re not just complaining about our situations; we are pressing into God as we issue our complaint to him. Biblical lament is more than just a common complaint. Anyone (and everyone) can complain. Biblical lament is special because it is a complaint in the presence of our Loving God.

And that’s the key. God wants us to find powerful resolution and redemption to our sucky situations, but it involves us turning to him, leaning on him, pressing into him. When we suffer, we can do one of three things: 1) we can try to work it out on our own, 2) we can feel sorry for ourselves or 3) we can press into God. Only one of those options leads to life, love and transformation.

I believe lamenting in God’s presence is the first step through the season of suffering. I’ve been using the Psalms to help me press into God during this difficult season and it’s led me to some very honest and raw conversations with the Lover of my soul. Through them, the Lord has given me some powerful insight into the “value” of suffering. I’d like to share them with you in the weeks to come.

I’ll also give updates on my health progress. I know that many of you are praying for me, and I gladly receive those prayers!

I used to think that June 18th was so FAR away – so far, that it really discouraged me. But after lamenting to God, I see that I only have until June 18th to learn the unique and valuable lessons that the Lord wants to teach me as he walks with me through this journey.

How about you? In your suffering are you just complaining or are you lamenting? Turn to God, press into Jesus and get real with him.

What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

5 thoughts on “Power of the Lament

  1. Praying that the interim time from now until surgery, and beyond, are glitch free. And may you always experience the presence of “the man at your side,” Christ Jesus our Lord, acquainted with sorrows.

  2. Doug,
    What an amazing grace-filled journey you have been on. I am praying you are one of Jesus’ best followers, learning all he wants to impart. May His peace and presence be evident each day on the waiting.

  3. Great article Doug, I so miss seeing you around here but you are not far from my thoughts (and everyone else’s) and always in my prayers.
    What a incredibly challenging time you are going through and I so appreciate your honesty and transparency with how “sucky” it has been. Sometimes we say “I’m fine” way too often when what we really mean is I am so far from fine that I can’t stand it!!

    Thank you for showing us what authentic struggle and lament looks like and showing us how to go to scripture and be with Jesus in the midst of it. I am reading a book. Starts with Amen by Beth Guckenberger and she shares during one of her deep medical struggles she started her prayers with Amen and ended with Dear Jesus.

    Because Amen means So be it, she wanted to start her prayers in the posture of So be it God, whatever your plan is I am submitting to it even before I start my requests and prayers of lament. I thought that was so beautiful and have even been praying that way myself lately. So I just wanted to share that with you and praying it blesses and encourages you.

    You are a dear friend and know that God puts you on my heart sometimes multiple times a day and I just lift you up to him and cover you and your family with grace and love.

    Hoping to see you soon…and praying June 18 comes quickly!!
    Blessings, Kathy

    Kathy Zour
    Assistant Pastor of Children’s Ministries
    909.945.5001 x259

  4. Doug, one of the (many) things I have always admired about you is your transparency. In all the years we have known you, you have always been incredibly, “real.” It breaks my heart to know a true friend is suffering. A friend you broke bread with, a friend whose children grew up with our own children. A friend you admired through parenthood, and “grandparenthood.” I have been blessed to know (and observe) you and Letty through the years. Back in the day, I can remember times we had deep discussions while our children played. We would share about our various struggles to understand what God is saying or doing. However, I can honestly say (through any of those discussions,) you always spoke with a humble reverence – a genuine, heartfelt, desire to be used by God…and to learn more about how He might want to “grow” you through each experience. After all these years, as I read your blogs, I STILL “hear” that in you, Doug. I still see the same heart, the same passion – only now – deeper and wiser. I want you to know Kevin and I have been praying for you (and Letty) daily. We will continue you to pray as the June 18th date approaches. I know, in spite of all of this (maybe even because of it,) God is going to teach me (and many others) through you – even as you lament during this incredibly difficult (sucky) process. We love you guys.

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