In our painful trials, God offers us the gift of lament as a place of brutal honesty regarding our pain and all its emotional baggage. And it is a gift. Even though lament is from our voice, it is offered in the presence of a listening and compassionate God. In our lament he brings his presence to our pain.
Using lament as a form of praise
Lament offers a process of moving from an inward focus on our suffering to an outward focus on who God is and all he is capable of. In the most terrible times of our lives lament recognizes the continuing presence of God, and that, implicitly or explicitly, becomes praise. If we can step back from the pain for just a moment, we see that lament is the key to relinquishing control to God for we not only share the pain and the hurt we suffer, but offer our praise for who he is, and his sovereign control to work our pain for our good and for his glory.
The expression of lament reveals the tension between our pain and suffering and the hope-filled expectation that we possess because of the sovereignty of God. We hurt and yet we know God is our healer. We suffer painful trials, and yet we know Jesus said he has overcome the world. We grieve over the depravity of the world, while knowing that one day soon Jesus will set right what is wrong and restore all that has been lost.
Understanding Jesus’ pain and suffering
Jesus understands our pain and suffering because he endured it himself. “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem” (Isaiah 53:3 NIV).
Because of the cross, we can take comfort in knowing that we will suffer (“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” 1 Peter 4:12 NIV), that it will deepen our relationship to him (“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” Philippians 3:10 NIV), but also that it is temporary (“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” 2 Cor. 4:17 KJV).
Please know that you aren’t alone in your pain and heartache, and God wants you to pour out your heart to him. God is big enough to handle it. He is a safe place—he knows anyway, but the entire Bible was the only book that was ever written as an invitation from the author to get to know him and his love for you on a personal level. When we care about others, we want to know their hurts, their dreams, their struggles, and their victories and that’s how God is toward his children.
Friend, if you are experiencing physical, emotional, relational, financial, or spiritual pain, grief or loss, can I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out To God When Pain Overwhelms. I wrote it in the crucible of pain, with you in mind. In it, I address the common thoughts and questions of pain sufferers, I openly and authentically share about my own painful journey, and I encourage you to hold on to your trust in God while waiting for your healing.
Adapted from The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2023. Used by permission.
The Hem of His Garment
We all experience pain from time to time, and not just physical pain, but also emotional pain, relational pain, spiritual pain, grief and loss.
I’ve been there. I’ve experienced each one of those types of pain. I’ve asked the hard questions. I’ve searched the scriptures for biblical examples and lessons learned through pain and suffering. And I’m sharing a fresh perspective in my new book “The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms.”
Here’s what Lisa Appelo, Author of Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart, had to say about The Hem of His Garment: “The Hem of His Garment is a masterpiece of help and hope in deep pain. Michelle is the guide we all need when we’ve endured long past the timeline we gave God or God seems silent despite our prayers. Sharing her journey of pain with raw vulnerability, Michelle shows us how to renew authentic hope and navigate suffering that seems too hard to handle.”
The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: The Hem of His Garment.