Easter Sunday is a little over a month away. As we prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus rising from the grave, I think it’s important to remember the whole process—from the mourning on Good Friday to the rejoicing on Sunday.
Although Jesus had told the disciples what would happen to Him, they didn’t completely understand. They believed Jesus was their Savior, the Messiah. But He was led to a cross, and darkness fell over the land as if the whole earth mourned (see Matthew 27:45). And then Jesus died. At that moment, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51).
After that, the disciples were hiding out, mourning the loss of their friend and Savior. Maybe they wondered if they’d misunderstood. Maybe they were just reminiscing together, running over Jesus’s words again and again. We don’t actually know exactly what they did on the days between Jesus’s death and His resurrection, but we do know that they were together with the doors locked because they were afraid of the Jews (see John 20:19).
Can you imagine what they felt on those in-between days? Maybe you know the feelings of despair, fear, confusion, and frustration that accompany your own in-between days. While we have the hope of the resurrection written in the Scriptures and written on our hearts, the days until Jesus returns can often be dark.
This is why I believe it’s so important to revive the art of lamenting, especially in regard to restoring our identity. While God has rescued us from our sin, paid the ultimate price for our adoption and freedom with the death of His Son, brought us to a new home with access to relationship to Him as His children, and has every right to demand our secure attachment, He waits for us. He waits for us to lament and grieve the old orphan identity, the only home we have ever known, and then turn slowly toward Him. He understands that intimacy does not come immediately. We must first mourn the hard days and sit with the hurt to turn toward healing.
God sees you and He knows there are days and seasons when you cannot feel or see your new home or taste heaven. He knows that sometimes the dark closes in, sometimes circumstances hurt, sometimes pain is a very real intruder, and you must sit in the dark and process your pain, knowing all the while He is right there.
When I struggled consistently with depression, my prayers rarely began with thanksgiving— they started with lament. It’s not a word you hear very often in Christianese, but lamenting saved my life. It gave me a very real way to process my very real story, heaviness, anxiety, and worry before a very real God. Lamenting gave me permission to lay all my insecure, anxious, and ambivalent feelings before a God who was listening.
The laments recorded in Scripture allowed me space and room to express intense anger, paralyzing shame, burdensome guilt, crippling fear, and overwhelming sadness. The psalmists did not hold back one single emotion that the human heart feels or experiences from the eyes and ears of God. They complained their hearts out and wept their tears to the full, and then most of the psalmists were able to walk away and leave their stories in His eternally capable hands.
This is why I love including the Psalms as one of the tools of restoration—they are an amazing gift to the people of God. Through them, we have the extraordinary ability to watch our heroes of the faith move from a very insecure place to a secure one through the presence of a very strong, real, empathetic God. Even Jesus used the emotions embedded within the Psalms to help Him process His own emotions—on the cross, in the wilderness, battling the Pharisees, rejoicing with the lost, and shepherding His disciples.
My hunch is that He also used the Psalms as His guidebook during His personal times of prayer. When He pulled an all-night prayer session with the Father, when He wrestled in agony in the garden of Gethsemane, when He endured several trials before His crucifixion—my guess is the Psalms were on His lips. He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), processing the deepest human emotions of despair, anxiety, sadness, and dread through the lens of the words and stories embedded within the psalter.
Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears.” Jesus did not pray like Snow White sings. Jesus prayed with wet eyes, damp cheeks, and a loud, lamenting voice.
What makes us think our prayers have to be so quiet? So hush hush? So appropriate? So thankful? The very life and testimony of Jesus Christ Himself gives us permission to pray the hard things.
As you start the process and discipline of persistently praying and meditating on the Word of God, specifically on the Psalms, remember one thing: You have full permission to pray honestly. To pray openly. To pray with loud cries and tears and to be your real self before a very real God. He isn’t interested in you being anyone else.
There are seven components of a lament, which can be but are not limited to:
- [An] address to God (“O God”)
- [A] review of God’s faithfulness in the past
- A complaint
- A confession of sin or claim of innocence
- A request for help
- God’s response (often not stated)
- A vow to praise, statement of trust in God
Laments do not have to include all seven components, but the common component in every lament is always a complaint—a complaint about life, against God, or against enemies. Not all laments end in resolution or an expression of confidence and trust in the Lord but most do. While you do not have to remember everything about a biblical lament, remember this one thing: God has given you permission to lament; to break open your bottle of emotions and pour out your heart into His waiting hands.
There is nothing you can say that will cause God to walk away, forget you, resent you, or abandon you. In fact, He waits for you to tell Him exactly where you are and how you got there. Until you do, until you are honest with Him about the pain, He will not do anything to heal it. He waits with a surgeon’s scalpel to delve into the hurt, trauma, and wound, and to cut it out as you process your pain before Him. And once He has lanced the wound and drained the infection, that’s when the next phase of healing can begin.
And we remember Sunday is coming.
To help you process your pain, sin, or even sin that others have committed against you, I have written a guide based on Psalm 143 to help you write your own laments. To access that guide, click HERE. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give your soul is a place to lance the wound and let all the hurt run out. So this Lenten season, don’t stay stuck in the pain. Take your pain to Jesus, lament and cry before Him, and let Him begin to heal your soul. Easter, and resurrection, is on its way.
*All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For more information on restoring your attachment through your senses or earned secure attachment, check out Susannah’s book, Restore and download the first chapter for free!