It’s Okay to Be Sad

In our connected world of breaking news and horrific sights witnessed almost daily, it can feel like there is no space to lament the losses we encounter. We become dull to their impact and hardened to the heartbreak. Oftentimes we prefer it that way. To be moved by every tragedy would crush us. But to refuse to be moved has even worse consequences.

If we are going to live justly in this broken world, we must allow ourselves to be impacted by what we see. Where our world pauses for only a moment, it is increasingly more important to lean into the pain and intentionally pause to lament the injustices we witness. We must give space to lament so that we are both personally changed and also moved to create change.

We must give space to lament so that we are both personally changed and also moved to create change. Click To Tweet

Why should we care?

Richard Hughes, author of Pro-justice Ethics: From Lament to Nonviolence, defines lament as “a cry of anguish, protesting unfair pain and suffering and pleading with God for a resolution of conflict or intervention of justice.” Lament is a two-fold expression. Firstly, it is a cry of suffering that expresses the unjust nature of a situation. Lament exposes the reality that whatever has occurred is not fair and should not be that way.

Unfortunately, too often this expression of injustice is where we conclude the matter. We complain about an issue but don’t do anything about it. We mourn, but remain unmoved. To stay in this place of despair short-circuits lament. It leads only to self-pity and cynicism. This is where we often get caught. But there is a better way.

For lament to take root, despair must be directed towards a person. But the only person able to carry the weight of this despair is God. He is a God of justice. And while we grieve over the injustices we see, we can trust that He grieves alongside us, but with an entirely different perspective. Only in God can we find hope, for He will win in the end. He has promised. True lament occurs when despair meets hope.

True lament occurs when despair meets hope. Click To Tweet

While lament is indeed a cry of suffering, it is also an act of faith. This occurs when we direct an injustice towards the God of all justice. We petition God to make the change that only He can. Lament is an act of faith. Ultimately, lament is the beginning of prayer.

What does this have to do with justice?

Taken to its truest end, lament always seeks to restore justice. For however brief or extended the season, lament always moves towards hope. It acknowledges the reality of a higher order of things. While recognizing the tension between suffering and restoration, anger and faith, despair and hope, we can trust in the God of justice who has promised to redeem all wrongs.

True Biblical lament always leads us to the God who listens and never rejects our honest expressions. Lament leads us to freedom when we fully give the matter over to God. When we grieve to the point of release, we are freed to respond to His call. When fully embraced, lament will always lead to justice and right-living. We come to trust that God is affected by our prayers of both pain and protest. And when we begin to understand and reflect His heart for our broken world, we become the change we long to see.