“Look, O Lord, for I am in distress; my stomach churns; my heart is wrung with me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death.” Lamentations 1:20
I know I’ve felt this way many times. I’m about to be found out. My heart races. My stomach churns. My mind won’t stop. It’s such a terrible feeling. My secret has been discovered.
I wish I hadn’t:
Sent that text.
Repeated that joke.
Gone on that trip.
Broken up with her or not broken up with her.
Made that stand or not stood up when it was time to.
Kept my mouth shut or opened my big mouth.
Lied. Cheated. Stolen. Ran.
Downloaded that app.
Spent that money.
Made that investment.
Believed that person.
Not taking more time.
Not putting down the computer.
Not taking the time.
Not sharing my story.
Not inviting someone.
Not seeing, listening, caring or helping.
Laments help us as we share our sorrow. They help us to listen to others without fixing everything. They help give us a voice in both big and small things. We can regret micro moments. We can regret words said and unsaid. We can regret how moments pile up into lives. We can regret wars, destruction, idolatry, a lack of compassion. We can enter into the reality that this world is not as it is supposed to be or should be.
One of the important aspects of the book of Lamentations in the Bible is that there is a difference between a dirge and a lament. A dirge is only a sad song or poem or thought or sentiment. However, a lament is directed at God. It’s more of a prayer cry to someone or something out there. It has a direction.
We lament in our journey together in this earth. We’re sojourners on this path together. We all have our griefs and regrets, or else we will. We need a place to share those. We grieve racism, divorces, deaths, debts, loss of jobs, miscarriages, children and parents and siblings and friends not walking with the Lord, sicknesses, heartaches, unfulfilled dreams, injustices, suicides, pornography, rape, hunger, abuse, failures, incompetencies, dashed hopes—and more. We grieve sin. We regret our part, however active or passive.
Or do we stuff those off and pretend either that we don’t have regrets or that the church cannot allow them?
Song for Sudan
… the planes dropped the bombs before daybreak—
the janjaweed stormed
with the dawn.
those who could
fled to the forest
to hide till they’d gone.
she found she was orphaned then—
there they began their exodus out of sudan…
she watched herself widowed while guarding their sleeping children—
…magboula rocks under the tree
no food for the child she cradles—staring at me.
what will it take to remember—what we said we’d never forget.
never again, is now,
once again in sudan…
 Song for Sudan, anonymous, found in Lyrics of Lament, Lee, p. 1