One of the most significant and important things that all communities of faith are going to have to think about, and put in place, over the next few months, is a clear theology of lament.

Why do I think that?

I think we will be faced with lots of people of faith who are carrying wounds, doubts, pains, and sorrows that they have never experienced before. People who have not been able to say goodbye to people they loved, others who’ve not managed to get to a funeral, some who are fearful, relationships that are being torn apart, others who are just uncertain about the future as unemployment grips us. We will be facing an avalanche of psychological, emotional and spiritual pain.

We, as a church, as a family, need to be able to deal with the realities that people are experiencing in the light and grace of who God is. We cannot simply rush by and ignore the hurts and pains of the individuals that call Jesus saviour and lord. Therefore, some of us are going to have to rethink the way in which we engage in worship, in reflection, in how we share the story of Jesus’ grace and love, together. We are going to have to give space to lament.

What is a theology of lament?

Lament is such an important part of the story of all the people who follow God. It is at the heart of the biblical narrative. Whether you look in the psalms, the prophets or the gospels, you find people wrestling with the reality of what they were enduring, and the reality of what God had promised them. They sometimes cried out to God, God, you must do something.”

It’s not just a series of complaints, but rather it is a transformative journey as people honestly go before their God and cry out, showing the wounds that they carry and inviting God into their situation.

Quite often, the sounds of lament start with a cry, a tear, a frustration, but end with a declaration that only God can come and do amazing things. We need to rediscover this process and find ways in which we can help walk with people.

It will take patience and understanding. Perhaps prayer journaling, liturgy and listening will all be significant parts as we move forward, and as we hear together the power of healing, grace and love that we find in God as we share our honesty and find the Spirit coming and touching and moving, even in the midst of that sorrow and hurting.

So, how do we create a theology of lament that enables us to move forward in stronger ways as a people, together? There are some practical ideas around practising lament available below. Do take a look as we journey together, and see God meet with us even in our times of struggle, uncertainty and doubt.