Yesterday, during the daily White House briefing, the President and his team shared grim news that the next 2-3 weeks will test our strength and try our endurance as a nation as the National COVID-19 Task Force projected potential death toll of 100,000-240,000 people.
A ministry brother recently posted a link to a recent Time magazine article written by N.T. Wright titled, “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” Rather than offering those suffering a reason as to why this happened, Wright contends that we should simply join them in lament.
Lament is described by the Oxford Dictionary as a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. A few synonyms are wail, wailing, moan, groan, sob, and howl.
A lament can also be expressed in the form of a song, piece of music, or poem expressing sorrow. Synonyms for this type of lament include dirge, requiem, elegy, funeral chant, burial hymn, and death march.
Used as a verb lament refers to mourning a person’s loss or death. Lament expresses one’s deep grief about or disappointment over something considered unsatisfactory, unreasonable, or unfair.
The Bible is filled with examples of laments. The book of Psalms, in addition to prayers and praises, offers up a number of laments. In fact, there is an entire book, titled Lamentations, devoted to lament. The laments found in Lamentations mourn the suffering and pain endured by a nation. A wise nation does not turn its back on God in the middle of grave suffering. Rather, a wise nation turns to God in that exact moment, devoting time to prayer & fasting and joining its people in lament.
The book of Job offers laments of a more personal nature as the title character endures what I deem to be unbearable loss. But through it all, Job’s faith does not waver. He continues to trust in the Lord. Job gives us an example of how to honor God during times of suffering. His friends show us what not to do when trying to help someone who is enduring great trials and tribulations. Rather than offering reasons, advice, or opinions, we should simply offer to be present and be content in sitting or standing alongside our human brothers and sisters traversing this storm.
We do not know why this present catastrophic event is happening in our lifetime other than recognizing that we live in a fallen, broken world. We can not say with total confidence that COVID-19 is God’s judgement raining down on us anymore than we can say with certainty that it is not. The Bible provides examples of God initiating and of simply allowing things to happen.
In order to convince a stubborn and hard-headed Pharaoh to free the Hebrews from captivity, God punished the Egyptian land and people with a number of plagues. When Israel and Judah continued to be willfully disobedient, God handed His chosen people over in exile to the Babylonians.
That same God did not cause Job’s suffering, but allowed it, the same way that He allowed His son, Jesus Christ to be nailed to the cross in order to satisfy the debt our sins incurred.
When God created the heavens and the earth, everything He created was good. Bad things didn’t happen to good people back then. After the Fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, we became separated from Him. In the world we live in today, bad things happen to good people all the time. That’s the unfortunate consequence of existing in a broken world. In Christ, you and I find the hope of a better day awaiting us than the one we are experiencing today.
But rather than explaining all that to those who are suffering, Wright contends that the Christian thing to do is to join them in lamenting the pain we are enduring in this present world. And I agree.
The need for us to lament, globally, nationally, and individually is clear to me. It’s something God spoke into my heart in recent days. The hardest, most difficult days in combating this terrible virus still lay ahead of us. In order to be strong enough to persevere and endure the coming tribulation, we will need to focus our hearts, souls, and minds on lament and join our neighbors in their suffering.
If you’re interested in reading N.T. Wright’s article, here is the link.
The Gospel of John 1:5 declares, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is a promise you and I can hold onto as we navigate the weeks ahead. Don’t lose sight of the existence of our God who loves you and delights in you.
May God’s peace comfort you during these difficult times.
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT:The Devotional Guy™is a writing ministry of Rainer Bantau, a chaplain actively and intentionally sharing the love of Jesus with people working in the marketplace and wherever else he encounters them.
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