Praying Prayers of Lament

Praying Prayers of Lament

In 2003, Bob and I found ourselves relocating.  We were leaving our children, grandchildren, and the home we had lived in for over 28 years to move to Atascadero.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, it was not a choice we ever thought we would make –  or ever wanted to make.  I knew NOTHING about Atascadero.  We moved because that’s where the job was – not because we took a quiz on the 100 best cities in America to relocate.  All I knew at the time was that Atascadero was home to the, then, “largest hospital for mentally disordered sex offenders in the US.”  <insert confetti and balloon emojis>

For the weeks prior to the move, I prayed fervently to God asking why and pleading for intervention.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  My prayers seemed to go as high as the ceiling before drifting to the ground.  I didn’t have a spiritual crisis.  I didn’t lose faith.  We moved, and I decided to stop complaining to God and “be happy”  – trusting that there was a reason for the move, despite the fact that God didn’t seem to be listening.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like this.  Maybe there have been, or are, times that when you don’t feel like God is listening. In the opening verses of Psalm 10, the psalmist asks God why he is standing far away – apparently unengaged.  Then he asks, “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”  So now not only was God standing far off, but He just stepped out of view entirely.

Fast forward to March 2020 and Covid.  I joined an all-staff Zoom meeting for Amor Ministries, the organization where I’d served for 30+ years.  The news was not good.  The border was shut down and the groups that had scheduled for spring trips to build homes were cancelling. Families who had looked forward to receiving homes wouldn’t be getting one – and whether we could survive as an organization if restrictions continued was (and still is)  in question.  Gayla, one of the founders of Amor, suggested we lament.  She offered a short article to read and suggested we consider writing our own lament.

I read the article and read a couple of laments and talked to Bob about laments – which sounded a lot like whining to me. He pointed me to a podcast about Lament….and that was a game changer.  Not only did God expect us to complain, He even provided us with a language to use for just such a time.  And this is the time! Issues like Covid, faltering small miinistries like Amor, racial issues, rampant abortion, “new” morality (or old paganism) provide lots of opportunities to lament – “A prayer in pain that leads to trust.”  Lament has a direction – It provides a way to complain to God that leads to a deeper trust in God. I’m looking forward to sharing more about Laments at our Women’s Conference.

Oh, and the move to Atascadero?  Among the most wonderful years of our lives.  A beautiful community, an unbelievable church, great friends…..I could go on and on.  Yes! God had a plan – and a great part of that plan was the 14 years at SMCC growing in theology and understanding – thank you, Robert!

As a PS, we moved back to SoCal in August of 2019 to be nearer to our family, and it turned out to be the right decision at exactly the right time.  Besides being close to and involved with the lives of our kids and grandkids, we benefited from their loving care during the worst of the pandemic. We also enjoy being involved with a growing group of friends at our new church – Northpoint Community in Corona.  (Ask the Campbells and the Powers about that!)