Songs of Ascent; Cries of Lament

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
– Psalm 18:6

Christmas is here again and I find myself wondering how another year went so quickly. Time seems to simultaneously move slowly and all too swiftly. This year, unlike other years, I have found myself watching A LOT of Hallmark. Longing for simplicity, predictability, and goodness, it is comforting at the end when everything is tied up in a nice little bow with each character’s hopes and longings being fulfilled. It is something I have desperately needed as this year comes to a close. But, in reality, life is much more complex than a Hallmark movie, and 2021 has definitely been a complexly beautiful one. 

This year has been full of wonder, provision, grace, sweet surprises, and so many answers to prayers. I saw my prayer to return to Africa be answered after more than two years, which some days still does not feel real. I have been abundantly blessed in the relationships around me. Family and friends who have held me up and surrounded me in love and prayer. I have laughed until my stomach hurt, traveled to tropical places, spent so much sweet time with my sister, and experienced so much awe and wonder of the Lord…this year has been full and overflowing. 

While I have been so fortunate, I have also spent many months asking God why things have gone the way they have? Why this? Why now? The bookends of this year carry so much grief and weight. It began with me dropping my father off at the ER and sobbing in my car, praying that would not be the last time I ever saw him. I am so thankful to say he is still here, but the wake of the reality of my parent’s fragility in this life has been tough to wade through this year as I have had to navigate this knowing I will soon again be an ocean away. It ends in a similar, but different grief, anticipating and wondering how long it could potentially be before another one I love slowly slips away from us. 

I have come to realize so much can exist in one space. So much sometimes I wonder how there is even room inside for me to feel it all.  David, Isaiah, Job, and countless others in Scripture knew this well. They knew what it meant to experience abundance and provision in the Lord and also true heartbreak and suffering. Donning sackcloths and ashes unafraid to sit in their grief, their cries reached our God. These men knew why and good could exist together. And most importantly they knew that God was big enough to handle their questions, their anger, their deepest sorrow.

My soul is downcast within me; 
therefore I will remember you 
from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—
from Mount Mizar. 
Deep calls to deep 
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
– Psalm 42: 6-7

Since beginning my training in Trauma Healing this year, I have learned how to become close friends with the art of lamenting well. Learning that pouring out my pain to God does not discount His goodness. In fact, it is a great sign of courage, daring to hope that the Lord in fact will answer the prayers and cries of His people.

Life really is a delicate balance of both the pain and the good. The scales can tip so easily and often do so in an instance. But despite the tipping of the scales, our God remains immutable through it all. I have come to rest in this truth so much in this chaotic year, realizing just how much I desperately need the Lord’s goodness, and in this Christmas season I have tried to hold onto every ounce of this goodness I can find. 

I am sure I am not the only one that has experienced so much in this time. Our world is groaning and yearning for the return of Christ. And while creation has been this way since humanity’s fall, it can easily feel like we are the only one’s struggling in the way we are. But Scripture is filled with men and women who experienced unspeakable suffering. Even Jesus knew what it was like to experience soul-crushing grief. The beauty in the pain is…we do not walk this path alone. 

Maybe this season you feel joy and hope at our long awaited Savior, maybe your heart is aching and grieving at the gaping hole that was left by someone who is no longer there to fill that space. Maybe you are frustrated by the expectations this year did not meet or overjoyed at how abundant God’s provision was this year. Or maybe, like me, you feel all these things at once, wondering how so much could be felt in a single instance. 

But, I am here to tell you, sweet friend, no matter the emotions or weight we feel, God is big enough to handle it all. The joy and the grief, the peace and the longing, the songs of our highest praises of ascent….and yes even the deepest cries of our heart’s laments. 

So I pray that the Lord meets you wherever you are this season. May we feel His presence, may we rest in His promises, may we be blinded by His pure light. May we know deep within our souls that God is here tabernacling among us, and may this steadfast truth give us immense hope and joy this Christmas season. Knowing that whatever we face in the coming year…Our God is big enough to handle it all, we just have to give it over to Him!

“…hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my savior and my God” – Psalm 42:11

Kuc Obed Kedi Sweet Friends! May peace be abundant this Christmas Season.

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