Most of us have always been taught to put on a brave face. We’re told that we ought not distress others by our grief, but be their sources of strength. If we shall grieve, let us do it privately. We’ve very much inherited the Edwardian notion of the British stiff upper lip when heartbreak comes our way, but as Christians, we have liberty and proof that it’s 100% okay to complain and cry out to God about your distress.
Several of the psalms are actually psalms of lamentation which differs from lamenting over the dead. Psalms of lament are those occasioned by a calamity that has befallen the psalmist or people of God for whom the psalmist speaks. Our sermon text this coming Sunday morning, Psalm 22:1–2, is one such psalm—the first line of which is recited by our Lord on the cross.
In lamentation psalms, a structure surfaces commonly among them: the psalmist addresses God either for themselves or the people of God, pours out their complaint, requests the horror to be corrected, declares their trust in God’s ability to rescue them, and promises to publicly praise God for His intercession. When carefully read, it might be surprising to discover that many of these psalms seem to accuse God of not attending to His duties as the God covenanted to His people. The psalmists makes no bones about such a brave accusation either, but seems comfortable doing so—something very foreign to our notion of fearing God. Nevertheless, the psalmists do so expecting a favorable response.
Added to the strong language of such psalms is the active tone taken. One might accuse the psalmists of seeming entitled, in a manner of speaking. They can be rather critical, even up to questioning God’s justice and order since He did not protect the psalmist from calamity. A beautiful feature is often the looking back to God’s previous acts of goodness to look forward to salvation from the trial at hand.
Given that school shootings have recently occupied our minds and hearts lately, it’s okay to complain, cry out, and let God hear you. As a matter of fact, when done rightly, it’s biblical. This coming Sunday, we’ll focus on this very thing and offer a lament to God for such atrocities in our nation with the hopes that He will save our society from the horrors of this very thing. Now’s the time to lament.