If there is something I understand, it’s pain and suffering. I have been paralyzed twice and have had to learn how to walk all over again, once at the age of 5 and the other at age 32. I was in out of hospitals numerous times as a child. I suffer from migraines. I have experienced disappointment and loss of jobs, loss of family and friends by tragedy and death. Pain, suffering, grief; we cannot escape life without it. When I experienced these things in my life, I had a flood of emotions; sorrow, loss, regret, grief and, especially anger – all emotions expressed in lament. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3, King Solomon wrote, “There is time for everything under heaven. A time weep. A time to mourn” (NIV) We can express lament both individually and communally. As an individual, do we honestly feel comfortable enough and have a good enough relationship with God that we can lament to him? We do have examples of individuals lamenting to God personally. The Psalms are filled with King David lamenting to God. He shares with God his pain, suffering, and asks God why he had forsaken him in Psalm 22:1. In Psalm 13:1, David begs God to listen to his sighing and his suffering. David, having the heart of God, laments to God in his pain, suffering, grief, anger and sorrow about different things he was facing in life. We can learn so much from the Psalms, seeing the relationship and heart that David had with God. It is only in having that kind of relationship that we can lament and in our lament grow closer to God. Sharing our feelings, emotions, problems, with God and asking the questions when faced with suffering takes faith and trust that God will listen and answer. Will the answers always be the answers we want? No, of course not. Will the deliverance and rescue from those feelings, emotions, and problems come quickly? Not necessarily to us, but in God’s timing, yes. Will we, after lamenting, understand why it happened or why we experienced what we did? Sometimes we will and sometimes we won’t. But one thing I do know is that lamenting can help build our faith in relationship with God as we share, question and respond as David did repeatedly, “Yet, you are my refuge.” “I will put my trust in you.” Psalms 119:114, Psalms 56:3. Job did the same as he held on to that belief God was bigger than himself. These men felt safe enough in God’s presence and had enough maturity in their sufferings to be able to openly question him and mourn openly to him. Can we really say that we feel safe enough with God? Why or why not? If not, what can we do to change that? As a community, do we, then, feel comfortable enough and have a good enough relationship with God’s people to lament publically without feeling judged? We do have examples of King David ordering a public lament in 2 Sam 2:17 for Saul and Jonathan after their deaths. We see the apostle Paul telling Christians to bear one another’s burdens in Colossians 3:13. If we are to lament publically, we need to have the relationship with our brothers and sisters where we won’t feel judged, but helped in our faith in relationship with God. Trust is key. I have seen churches try to lament publically and trust was breeched. Individuals felt judged for showing what many considered a lack of faith. I have also seen in churches that I have been a part of lamenting publically over wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, direction of the country, community decisions, unity or lack thereof, sin of an individual, and even a death of a member because trust was there and openness and love was practiced. It can be such a blessing for a church to lament publically. It builds relationships, encourages unity as we share similar pain and emotions and express common questions, as a group, to God. It shows that we aren’t alone. Paul says, in Philippians 4:14 that it was good for the Philippian Church to share in his troubles. Can we really say that we feel safe enough with our brothers and sisters? Why or why not? If not, what can we do to change that? Do you have that kind of relationship with God where you feel like you can lament to Him? Do you have that relationship within your congregation where you can practice public lament without feeling judged? Do your leaders encourage lament both individually and communally? Why or why not? What can Churches do to create an environment where lament is encouraged and practiced? What happens to our faith and relationship with God when lament is practiced individually and communally as Christians? How has lament affected your life and the life of your Church? I challenge you to lament. Lament both as an individual and as a community of Christians. Share. Express your emotions. Ask the questions. And see where your faith journey takes you.