Lamenting with Reverence
This post will coincide with an upcoming episode of the Navigating grief with Grace Podcast. As I am growing and learning I have realized that my grieving was a mess. While grieving is messy and God gives us the grace we need for each day which can save us a lot of hurts. So! More coming this is only the Pre-courser of the episode as when speaking I can go into depth a little more.
First things first we need to define these key terms: Lament and Reverence then answer the question of why in the world I want to discuss them side by side interwoven with one another.
Lament is defined as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow”. Many of us who have experienced grief and loss of some kind have lamented. While participating in a co-leader role in Grief Share I made some realizations about the way I grieved my mom's passing. I did lament, but I lamented with anger towards God instead of acknowledging the fact that I still needed to revere Him even in grief simply because God is God. When I allowed myself to be consumed with lamenting my pain and my hurt was the center of my attention - I had the "Woe is me" attitude for a long while. As a Christian, my focus should be directed on the things above - God and His perfect plan - not myself. Our flesh's natural reaction is to focus on ourselves and our problems, I mean, we live in a selfish world so of course, even in our grieving we are more likely to focus on how our loss has impacted our lives and turned our world upside down. Grieving is a lot of work and we can focus on the "How am I going to move forward?", "How am I going to enjoy life again?", "Will I ever get over the sorrow?" versus "God, what purpose can come from this pain?", "God, where are you in this?", "God, how are we going to move forward?" We forget that we are not promised a perfect life (see John 16:33) but will have many hardships (see Matthew 6:34). The only guarantee is that we do not have to go through any aspect of life alone because we get to abide in Jesus. Instead of focusing on the "I" we should focus on the "we" and the "Him". Our sole purpose on this earth is to serve God and bring Him glory. When we lament without reverence we are not giving God any type of glory. I'm not sure how common it is to lament with reverence but we'll take a look at how we should be doing so and what it means exactly.
Reverence is defined as “deep respect for someone or something” and “honor or respect felt or shown”. I often think that reverence isn't talked about enough in today's church or in my generation. Well, it's that or I might just not be feeding myself from resources that are doing this often and well. I feel that we often talk about the importance of the familial relationship we get to have with God through Christ but we don't communicate that this relationship must include the deep respect we ought to show to our God. We must honor Him because we should be in such great awe of the God of the universe and what He has done for us and the work of the cross. Awe and reverence must go together so that we are humbled into the right position in our relationship with God. If we put ourselves at the same level as God or try to reach even higher then of course we are going to feel that God did something incorrectly in our life. If we do not have reverence we might feel that we cannot trust our God after a hardship - "God if you allowed this, how can I ever trust you again?" We think we have all the answers because we think we have our lives so perfectly planned in our minds that we don't leave room for God to do His will in our life. Reverence allows us to swallow our pride and confess that God is still in control even when we are in great pain. Our prayer may not have been answered the way we wanted it to or a sudden change happened but we have to trust that God will work out all things for His good (see Romans 8:28) because if we pursue the questions of "why?" and "how?" we will keep going in circles that will not allow us to grow which is even more painful. I've been there and it hurt even more before I "allowed" God the control to heal my hurt. It is also important to note that when we live in a lamenting cycle without looking to God for comfort and realizing we need to revere Him we allow a door to be opened for Satan to use. If we are not careful we will start to listen to the whispers of lies he feeds us instead of the proclamations of God's Word and the truth of His promises despite how we feel.
To lament with reverence takes a little encouragement from Scripture. Okay, A LOT of encouragement because it does not come naturally from our flesh. Here's a list of a couple of scenarios in scripture I found either encouraging or relatable.
● 1 Chronicles 7:22-24:Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. Afterward, Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah[a] because of the tragedy his family had suffered. He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah.
○ This scripture is both relatable and encouraging. Ephraim mourned for a long time. While a long time is not a definitive time we can still relate to where we feel we have mourned long enough. We can feel as though we are fed up with our grief and wish we can just set it on a shelf but that is just not how it works we work through grief for a long time. After the loss of these children, he was later able to have more. Now, while having more kids does not take away the pain of losing the others it does bring joy. Even when feeling great pain, we can still have something to look forward to in this life.
● Nehemiah 1:4:When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
○ This verse is both relatable and a good example in one. Hearing the news of loss causes us to sit down and weep. Right there in the hospital when my mom passed I fell to the floor and sobbed. Relatable. This author mourned for days - which we do. Heck, we do this way longer than just days. Yet, for this writer, he had actions to list besides mourning. He fasted and prayed to God. He sat in the pain while also crying out to God - it appears he had some balance in his mourning.
● Job 37:24: No wonder people everywhere fear him. All who are wise show him reverence.
○ Now, this verse is in and of itself self-explanatory on the purpose of reverence. Reverence is essential for true wisdom. Furthermore, reverence is a safeguard for our hearts through any trial we face in life. I like the thought of having reverence as a safeguard that is rooted deep within my heart because if it is rooted strongly it is less likely to wither. If I already revere God greatly then it will be that much easier to maintain that reverence through the trials of life. Reverence keeps Satan at bay as well. Reverence keeps us on the right path. We are less likely to harbor anger and misguided emotions toward God which will ultimately harm our relationship with Him. I know for at least a year I was stuck in one place until God finally reeled me back into the truth of His goodness and stand on His promises. Reverence is a must in our grief that aids us in not going in an endless loop of hurt, blame, and guilt.
● Hebrews 5:7: While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.
○ Reading this verse in the context of looking for examples of reverence I find myself being humbled. Jesus reverenced the Father. If even Jesus - the Savior of the world showed reverence toward God how much more do we need to do this? Not only does God deserve reverence, but we also benefit from giving it to Him.
Lamenting with reverence demonstrates that we trust our Creator who is the Maker and Finisher of our faith. We are only capable to endure anything in this lifetime because of the faith He grants us. It is only by His grace that we can endure all things and that should be more than enough reason to give him the reverence He deserves - even in our lamenting.
 “Lament,” Google search (Google), accessed December 8, 2022, https://www.google.com/search?q=definition%2Bof%2Blament&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS982US982&oq=definition%2Bof%2Blament&aqs=chrome..69i57j0i20i263i512j0i512j0i390l4.4034j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.  “Reverence,” Google search (Google), accessed December 8, 2022, https://www.google.com/search?q=reverence%2Bdefinition&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS982US982&oq=reverence&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j46i175i199i512j0i131i433i512j0i512j0i20i263i512j0i512j69i60.2787j1j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.  “Reverence Definition & Meaning,” Merriam-Webster (Merriam-Webster), accessed December 8, 2022, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reverence.
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