The Power of Lament

At each church I visited in Mozambique there was time given for testimony from their people. After all the singing and before the message the women would sing until someone stood to share at which time they would stop singing. As soon as the person was finished their few sentences the women would start in singing once more. This rhythm of song and sharing was repeated until each person who wanted had shared.

I visited 9 churches and they were all the same in this regard. Even the songs being sung were similar in style and cadence except for one church. In Mutarara it was different.

When I had first arrived in the area it was after sun-set. I was given a seat and all around and before me were the children sitting. They had been waiting for me and once I arrived they drew in close.

Now in a land with no lights after dark I sorta shine like a glow-worm with my one little bit of flashlight. At least I assume I do. As for the ones around me I couldn’t see them whatsoever. I could tell though that the boys in front of me were scolding and hitting and jostling each other.

At first I was horrified. Gosh, they hate each other I thought. But over the course of my few days there I realized that Mutarara is just a hard land and the people themselves were hard to match; strength for strength, stamina for stamina. And it showed up in their song during testimony time.

The women broke into song as I’d seen everywhere else, but their song was a deep mournful lament.

It was beautiful and stunning. It felt more real to me than all of the happy upbeat songs I’d heard everywhere else. It rang more true and captured the difficulty of the land and the lives who lived there.

I was reminded how much I love lament and of the beauty woven through an honesty of sorrow. It caught my heart and I so wish I had recorded their song on my phone.

All I could do was bask in the beauty of their honest hearts before the Lord, a common reckoning of difficulty and its ability to strengthen us and to in fact make us glad.

Lament is an important part of our experience in this life. After all Christ himself was a man of sorrows. Will we join him?

Some years ago I knew a woman who was dying. She had an inoperable disease and was simply facing each new day with a strength that only comes when someone is facing death.

In the midst of her last few months she confided to me, “I look back over my life and I realize all the things I have not cried over, and now I don’t have the time.”

And in these few simple words is the truth to the power and beauty of lament, of tear, of grief. How it must be undergone in this life or we’ve lost our chance.

Where might you lament today?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

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