Lament as Worship

By Jamie Harms

The year 2020 has not gone as anybody planned. It started off with wildfires in Australia before moving to an unknown virus in China. That virus spread through the world causing months of lockdown in isolation and the loss of our normal way of life, celebrations and activities. The year continued with protests both violent and peaceful that left our government, churches, business, and families reeling, trying to figure out how to lead and to live within our current circumstances. And, this year is not over yet! With summer, new schooling situations, and elections, among other things, still to come in the next few months, life can feel very overwhelming.

It is safe to say that the writer of today’s psalm was feeling overwhelmed. He was surrounded by personal suffering, which included a lack of physical health (v. 3), discouragement (v. 4-5), isolation (v. 6-7), oppression (v. 8), uncontrollable weeping and depression (v. 9), and facing his own mortality (v. 11). As he carried his burden, he modeled what to do with overwhelming circumstances. He cried out to his God.

Our psalmist, David, begins Psalm 102 with “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry come to you!” He approaches his Lord in distress, struggling with what he sees and experiences in the world, trying to make sense of it and begging for relief. He knows that he cannot deal with his current circumstances as they are. But he knows that throughout Israel’s history and his own personal experience God sees, hears, and responds in His good omniscience and omnipotence. His God can still be trusted.

David’s lament and anguish, like ours, is actually a gift. Lament allows us to come before our Lord with all our thoughts, feelings, and pain without holding anything back. It draws us close to our God when we are tempted to go the other way. We see David do just that as he cries out in verse 1 and then by verse 12 takes his eyes off of his situation and focuses on who his God is. His God is still eternal and powerful (v. 12, 14) and takes pity on His creation (v. 13). He is holy (v. 19) and worthy of worship (v. 22).

In seasons of lament, it should lead us like the psalmist to worship. When our hearts are heavy and overwhelmed, we choose to remember. We choose to remember who God is and that He is the one who still sees us, hears us, and will be with us no matter what we walk through in this life. We choose to remember that He is a God of redemption and can make something beautiful out of brokenness. We choose to remember that despite our circumstances, He remains our living hope.  

As we meditate on Psalm 102, come before your Lord with all your worries and your cares laid before Him. Then, like David, turn and worship the Lord, for He is good.

Psalm 102

Do Not Hide Your Face from Me

A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. Nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory. For the LORD builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.

He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days — you whose years endure throughout all generations!”

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

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