a blog from our pastors and staff
thoughts from your friendly church secretary, Janell Clingenpeel
In this video (below) of Pastor Dan, I can’t help feel the heaviness of his heart. It reflects my own.
I was triggered by the word “lament.” What does it really mean? Why does it always bring me back to the story of Job? And to David crying out to God?
Lament as a noun is described as a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. This is now officially the word of 2020 in my books. Nila has been talking about surviving or thriving for the last couple of weeks (a heart-hitting sermon that you should check out on YouTube, if you haven’t yet) and I am in the camp of surviving.
For me, the last 7 years or so, I have been learning about God’s control in my life and how little control I truly have. When I was younger I would have said I enjoy change, I sometimes even craved it, which is still true to some extent. The difference is, that as an adult, I think I must control the change. I don’t roll with it as well as I used to. I have always been on the people-pleasing, anxiety-ridden, insomniac road to life and since having a family, that has tripled. I am acutely aware that it is with each of my children, I have lost even more control of my life. You are never aware of how selfish you are until you have kids. Talk about a sacrifice of self! And with every child that God has brought into my life, with every upheaval of a new baby and change, I am keenly aware of how much I don’t want to surrender my life to God. I need to drive. I need to know where I am going next. Change is easy when you are in control. It is terrifying when you feel like you have been thrown into a van blindfolded and have no idea where you are going.
Enter 2020 from stage right. Ah, a new year. Enter Coronavirus from stage left, violently. Having anxiety and using the word pandemic on an almost daily basis is playing with matches near gasoline. All of a sudden I am buying groceries and filling my pantry so I don’t have to leave my house for two months. Abruptly all plans come to a halt and I am home with my kids all of the time. My husband starts doing his work at home. We rearrange my house so he has a home office and I can school my kids at the kitchen table. We all learn how to do Zoom calls. The violent political landscape of our country is vomiting everywhere. The Black Lives Matter Movement rallies and protests. No justice, no peace. Family ties are stretched, differences in opinion and misunderstandings lead to hurt feelings. It is all so much.
And in the midst of all that, God just keeps saying to me, “I am in control. You do not need to be. Take off that blindfold and get in the passenger seat. Let’s go for a drive and be together. Tell me your heart; the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Lament. I have lamented all over the place.
In my Bible, it says in the preface for Job, “...we are reminded that suffering comes to everyone, the righteous and unrighteous alike. God does not always keep the righteous from danger and suffering. Ultimately, God controls all of life's situations, including limiting the power of Satan. The book of Job demonstrates poignantly that God’s comfort and strength are always available to the trusting soul.”
Job is the poster child for suffering and has aced the test on lamentations (and not giving in to what other people think). At the end of Job’s book we see God come to him after his laments and restore Job. God heard him, listened intently, and breathed new life into Job’s heart (God also spared Job’s friends for giving him bad advice because Job prayed for them).
I also am freed from guilt (because sometimes I feel I lament too much) when I read the Psalms. David illustrates to us that it is absolutely okay to lament, to be angry, unsure, confused and shout it out to God. Psalm 13 is a great illustration of this.
My all time favorite verse (Psalm 138:8) is a plea with God to not forget me, because often I have grabbed the steering wheel of my hot mess express and swerved off the road and probably into a ditch and then I wonder how I got there. I know that God has not forgotten me, I know I left him on the road and now he has the tow truck waiting to pull me out of whatever mess I’m in. But sometimes God leaves me in the ditch for a while. I often don’t know why, but it is in those times I cry out to him with the most honest heart. I find suffering, strife, hardships, make us deal with our lives in ways we would not have otherwise, to wrestle with our brokenness, to acknowledge our faults, to deal with all the emotions we have been bottling for so long.
So here we are in the middle of a pandemic, during an election year, with social and racial injustices happening, with our nation trying to decide what to do about school, jobs, evictions, the list goes on… And I have been crying out to God for over 150 days, often asking for patience and mercy when dealing with my crazy children. To restore my way of life before pandemic days.
I don’t think God will restore my life in the way I expect, just like God did not give Job his old life back. He restored Job anew. So I will wait in the ashes of my life and wait for God. I pray for restoration and renewal. Not my old life, but a new one. The one where God is in control.