Monday, April 4, 2011
For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament, or bemoan them; for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the Lord, my steadfast love and mercy.
- Jeremiah 16:1-13 (excerpt)
Paul instructs the Thessalonian church, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
God’s judgment upon Judah and Israel did not permit them access to the peace and hope, which Paul describes as permitting mourning. In fact, God’s instruction through Jeremiah prevented God’s people from mourning. He told them that when their young die, do not lament them, do not bury them, do not mourn for them. Do nothing that may resemble having sadness. However, God’s denial of lament in their midst was not the punishment. Rather, his removal of peace in order to lament properly served as judgment.
Scripture does not teach, Do not lament, as if the Christian life is an easy, happy-go-lucky ride without death and loss. No, rather, Scripture describes the access into relationship we may have with the God who gives hope and peace in the midst of severe and penetrating loss.
We pray for courage to lament in the hope and peace that our cries will last but for a night. We pray that we will not turn from sorrow nor ignore pain, but remind us to wait expectantly for the joy you will give. We entrust those we have loved who are no longer with us into your hands, knowing that you have them, love them, and one day, we will be privileged to rejoin them. Spirit, instruct my heart in how to lament well and deeply and to look for your hope and peace to emerge.
Jennifer L. Aycock is a freelance writer for McCormick Theological Seminary and a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.