How I Should Grieve!

How I Should Grieve! (CaD Lam 2) Wayfarer

The hearts of the people
    cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
    let your tears flow like a river
    day and night;
give yourself no relief,
    your eyes no rest.

Lamentations 2:18 (NIV)

I have a friend who is experiencing pain in life that I can’t imagine. Every day is a torment. My friend has actually compared daily life to Sisyphus, who perpetually struggled to roll a boulder up the hill only to have the law of physics win every time. He would watch as the boulder rolled back down requiring him to start again, and again, and again.

My friend steadfastly refuses to talk much about it.

“I remember you telling me thirty years ago about these old farmers in the church where you interned that one summer,” my friend said to me. “How these old guys were so stoic they would refuse to go to the doctor or the hospital even though they were suffering and dying. I’ve always admired that.”

I don’t begrudge the sentiment. I’ve observed that human nature often leads one to do almost anything to avoid pain. This is especially true when that pain is perpetual. I might find ways to numb out and avoid it. I might distract my mind and soul with any number of things. I might, like the old farmers my friend admired, stoically stuff my pain and suffering down deep and stoically steel myself to silently endure. In each case, I’m still just avoiding what the Great Story states, quite directly multiple times in multiple ways: the path of spiritual progress in this life is in pain, trouble, trials, and suffering. Jeremiah’s amazing five poems of Lamentation might easily be presented as Exhibit A.

Here’s a little Jeopardy! trivia: The Hebrew title of the book of Lamentations is “How” (Hebrew: ‘êkâ), after the first word of the first line of chapters 1, 2, and 4. Here are the three lines in succession:

How deserted lies the city,
    once so full of people!
How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion
    with the cloud of his anger!
How the gold has lost its luster,
    the fine gold become dull!

There’s something I really love about that. It recognizes what I find to be exactly what I need when I’m suffering struggles on this life journey: to honestly, emotionally, and unashamedly express my thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. That’s exactly what Jeremiah’s five-poem volume, How, is all about.

How I should grieve!

Along my spiritual journey, I’ve found it interesting to observe so many people who have a base assumption that life should be free of trouble, and that when experiencing trouble one should deny it, avoid it, and pretend that everything is okay. On the contrary, my perpetual journey through the Great Story reminds me constantly to experience trouble head-on, to fully express sorrow, and to allow life’s troubles to do their spiritual work in me as I cling to hope in God’s promises and have faith that there are good things on the other side of the pain.

The Sage of Ecclesiastes said that there is a time and season to mourn and grieve on this journey just as there is a time and season to dance. I love the juxtaposition of those realities in one verse. It gives me permission (I might even say it commands me) to fully feel and express my grief, but it doesn’t allow me to sit in and wallow in victim status forever. Rather, it is in fully working through my grief that I make my way out of the valley and to the next mountain vista where I can just as fully dance on the summit. They are part of one another. My grieving gives fullness to the dancing. My dancing gives perspective to the grieving. I find that treating them as either-or experiences in life is spiritually anorexic. Experiencing their both-and interconnectedness is spiritually empowering.

In the quiet this morning, I’m reminded that there are times in this life when God gives me permission, even commands me to:

Cry out! Wail! Moan! Sing the blues!
Let my tears torrentially flow like a raging river.
Let it out around the clock.
Don’t stop until it’s done.

It’s through the free flow of my grief that God spiritually transports me to where He’s leading me.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

One thought on “How I Should Grieve!”

  1. People moving out, people moving in
    Why, because of the color of their skin
    Run, run, run but you sure can’t hide
    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
    Vote for me and I’ll set you free
    Rap on, brother, rap on
    Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
    And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
    Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
    Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation
    Ball of confusion
    Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
    Woo, hey, hey
    The sale of pills are at an all time high
    Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky
    The cities ablaze in the summer time
    And oh, the beat goes on
    Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul
    Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon
    Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
    And the band played on
    So, round and around and around we go
    Where the world’s headed, nobody knows
    Oh, great googa-looga, can’t you hear me talking to you
    Just a ball of confusion
    Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
    Woo, hey
    Fear in the air, tension everywhere
    Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas
    And the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation
    And the band played on
    Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors
    Mod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many bills
    Hippies moving to the hills, people all over the world are shouting, end the war
    And the band played on
    Great googa-looga, can’t you hear me talking to you
    Sayin’ ball of confusion
    That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
    Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya
    Sayin’, ball of confusion
    That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
    Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya
    Ball of confusion
    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Norman Whitfield / Barrett Strong

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.