Over the past month, Jayne and I have been concentrating on making space for God in our lives as a way to observe this season leading up to Easter. I’ve gained a lot in the process of intentionally slowing down, spending time in silence, and waiting upon the Lord. But I’ve also gained some understanding about my expectations along the way: I expected the outcome of this discipline to feel more fulfilling, more . . . happy. If you’ve been following along over this past month of blogs and working to create space in your own life, take a moment right now and see if you can come up with one or two expectations that you had about how the process of making space would affect you.
. . . everything is not alright . . .
This line from the song “Lament” by Nine Beats Collective has settled into my heart lately. I watch Jayne grieve the loss of the mother she’s always known (to Alzheimer’s) and think, “Everything is not alright.” I listen to stories of global workers trying to work through some very hard situations and think, “Everything is not alright.” I hear friends on both ends of the political spectrum vent their frustrations and think, “Everything is not alright.” I see reports on the news of grave miscarriages of justice and think, “Everything is not alright.” I give in to the tendency to be harsh and critical, and words come out of my mouth that I wish I had not said, and I think, “Everything is not alright.”
For the first few weeks of lent, I pushed the feelings that accompanied “everything is not alright” out of my mind. But then, as I was reading one of Jayne’s blogs, the question came into my mind, “Instead of pushing the thoughts out, what would it be like to make space for them?” My immediate response was, “Honestly? It would feel dark . . . and I don’t want to feel any darker right now.”
Making space for lament—the intentional grieving of the “un-alright-ness” of this world—is a tricky thing. If we only do it at times when unpleasant situations and circumstances offend our sensibilities, then we find ourselves at the mercy of . . . well, almost anything! But on the other hand, who wants to deliberately take the time to think about the darker things of this world? It just seems futile.
In Romans, Paul sandwiched this idea of the futility of this world between the enormity of what it means to have the Holy Spirit alive in us, and the overwhelming confidence in Christ’s love for us! Read Romans 8:19-21 (NASB) with those two truths in mind:
For the eagerly awaiting creation waits for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
My paraphrase is this: “For everything is not alright . . . except one thing. God is always alright. He knows what’s going on. One day, all things will be made right.”
Making space for lament is a way of working this truth out in our lives. It may get dark, but there is One who is willing to meet you in the darkness and guide you into hope – not the hope that the darkness will be gone tomorrow, but the truth that He will be in the darkness with you. And one day, all things will be made right.
ACTION: What is your gut reaction to the practice of making space for lament? Is it something that you’ve intentionally done in your life before? Here’s a link to The Practice of Lament Exercise that can help you settle into the practice:
If you want a little “inspiration” in creating space for lament, listen to “Lament” by Nine Beats Collective: