Our church Communications Director, Hannah McNeill, and I took our church family through a lament exercise on this week’s Central Podcast. We looked at lament from a biblical view point and then walked our congregation through writing a personal lament prayer. I believe lament is the biblical and historical way God’s people have always worked through suffering and injustice. Lament is a holy way to process what’s happening in the world and in our own worlds so as to be both honest with God and honoring of God. It’s a mostly neglected form of prayer that feels especially appropriate and helpful during this season of suffering and loss. You can listen to the podcast here, download the worksheet here, and learn how to write your own psalm of lament. This is the prayer I wrote and shared at the end of the podcast.

Father God, you are the Holy Creator of Heaven and Earth,
you are the giver and sustainer of life;
you are our protection and provision,
you are the healer of all diseases.
You, O God, give life to the dead and call things that are not
as though they are.

So, where are you right now?

How can you allow the older saints among us to suffer so —
those with already debilitating issues,
those with compromised immune systems,
those who already struggle with so much —
how can you allow them to suffer even more with the fears and the realities
of this new virus?

Why are you allowing the socio-economic minorities to bear the brunt of this new disease?
Why do the refugees in the camps,
the orphans in the homes,
and the homeless in the streets
carry the weight of this worldwide pandemic?
Why are the people who need their jobs and the income the most
the only ones losing their jobs and income during this crisis?

How long is this going to last?
Our sons’ graduations have been canceled,
our daughters’ weddings have been postponed,
and our church hasn’t worshiped together in the same room for nine weeks.
Lonely people are lonelier,
sick people are suffering by themselves,
dying people are being buried without songs.
How much longer, O Lord?

This disease is making the division in our country worse, not better.
Our politicians are more on the attack and less willing to compromise
for the sake of the people.
We don’t have any answers.
We don’t know what to do.
We can’t make any decisions. Nothing is stable.
We can’t make any plans. Nothing is certain.
Everything feels out of control and up in the air.
Why do you just stand there, God, and do nothing?

Lord, in your kindness, would you intervene?
God in heaven, would you please do something here on earth?

Heal us, loving Father.
Drive this virus away from your creation, powerful Healer, and give us a break.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Show us your compassion and grace and destroy this disease
that is causing so much heartache and pain.

It is hard to feel your presence, Lord.
It is hard to know that you care.
This doesn’t feel like love.
This doesn’t seem very fair.

Good people are suffering, Father.
Don’t you see them? Don’t you care?

But, God, you are Emmanuel; we know that you are always with us.
We know that you suffer with us and care deeply for every part
of your creation.
We know that you are near.
We know that you listen to our cries for rescue and that you hear
our prayers of petition.
And we know that you care.
You are faithful and good, Father.
You have answered our prayers in the past,
and we know you will answer our prayers today.

Our trust is in you, O Lord.
We see you at work in the middle of our discouragement and despair.
Our society is paying more attention to the vulnerable and the weak,
our culture is celebrating acts of sacrifice and service —
you are the One causing that.

Our hope is in you, O Lord.
You are keeping our church family together
and working in us and through us to bless others.
Orphans in Kenya are sheltered and safe,
students at Bivins Elementary have food,
Amarillo heart doctors have masks,
our city’s needy have meals and money —
you are the One behind that.

Our faith is in you, O Lord.
You have revealed yourself to us in our Savior Jesus Christ,
and our faith is in you.
You have provided everything we have ever needed
and you have promised to provide for us today and forever.

Praise the Lord.