What do you say to a young widow wailing so loudly at her husband’s funeral that the attendees can’t hear the preacher?
I say, let her wail.
The Christian’s impulse is to sweep the pain and groanings of life in this fallen world under the rug. We have hope in Christ. Heaven awaits. God works all things together for good. We’re not trying to minimize or dismiss someone’s suffering, but our attempts to encourage are often premature. Sometimes, people need time and space to lament.
Read the host of biblical passages where God allows—encourages even—deep, heartbroken uncertainty and complaints. Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Ps 10:1). Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? (Ps 44:23, 24). My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O, my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer and by night, but I find no rest. (Ps 22:1, 2).
As Michael Jinkins aptly states in his book, In the House of the Lord:
The psalms of lament open us to the greatness of a God who not only can hear but also can handle our pain, our self-pity, our blame, and our fear, who can respond to our anger, our disillusionment in the midst of oppression and persecution, under the boot of tyranny and our sense of God-forsakenness in the face of life’s most profound alienations and exiles.
Candidly expressing our pain, fear, and confusion to God is not necessarily irreverent or a lack of faith. It’s just honesty. Furthermore, God welcomes it.
When I discover one of my children crying, I may beg them to tell me what’s wrong. I’m not asking for a mature assessment of the situation. Maybe they don’t have a legitimate reason to cry, but that hardly matters. When I see tears in my children’s eyes, I only want them to open up and let me in so I can share their burdens. Is our Heavenly Father so different?
Read the lament passages of the Bible again. Healing, hope, and renewed trust in God often begin with lament.