How To Lament for Others

As I woke up and read another news heading of a mass killing in Las Vegas, Nevada, my soul groaned and cried out to God.

How many times have we lamented on social media? We’ve changed our facebook profile pictures, hash-tagged the most recent #prayingfor___ and we continue to see a vicious cycle of violence with no end in sight.

How do we move from prayer to more action? Prayer is action, and yet we don’t stay there. How do we transition from lament to being hopeful?

We’ve spoken in the past of how to leave ourselves time to lament.

We’ve encouraged you to get help in the midst of your storm.

We’ve even discussed the “How Long” lament before.

But this time feels different. This time it needs to be more than just about us. How now can we lament for others?

Let’s learn from Habakkuk:

“How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” Habakkuk 1:2-3

First I must say, this lament is okay. We cry out “How Long” and lament when we see violence. This is a healthy lament and prayer.

But sometimes it’s far too easy to lament, tweet and move on. Remember when 9/11 happened and we were glued to our televisions? I’m afraid that now we are too quick to move on. We don’t sit in our grief, sit in our struggle, or even sit well with our neighbor. Do we know how our neighbors are doing after this recent tragedy? Do we know if they are tired, fearful or even pondering eternity?

How can we lament and listen to God, without brushing this off as the latest tragedy, or giving it a quick hashtag? How do we love our physical neighbor, not just our social media friend, when tragedy strikes?

Let’s keep reading:

I will stand at my watch, and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1

Habbakuk lamented to God, a lot. This book is full of laments and complaints – I encourage you to read it in full. But then, Habakkuk waited on God.

Do we take on this same posture?

This isn’t an easy teaching, and it’s certainly not an easy task (waiting never is) but it is critical for us to wait on God and listen to Him when disaster strikes.

God’s answer to Habakkuk gives us hope that God is at work, even in the worst kinds of evil.

So I encourage us: LAMENT FOR LAS VEGAS. Groan, cry, weep, wail, and pray. Don’t just stop there. Help your neighbor, meet with a friend, share the Gospel, donate blood; be involved in your local government.

And as we do all these things, observe our heart posture towards God.

Do we wait to hear God speak, or are we angry with Him?

Do we wait to hear God speak, or do we just hurry on?

Are we waiting to hear God speak, or are believing He is absent from this pain?

Las Vegas we lament and pray for you. Puerto Rico we lament and pray for you. Houston, Florida, Paris, London, Brussels, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook and more – we lament and pray for you. We lament “how long” for the senseless tragedies in this world, and we lament alongside creation that is lamenting itself.

Let us not be guilty of senseless murder. Let us not be guilty of false compassion. And may it not be said of us that we did not wait on God and listen. He is the more compassionate than all of us (Psalm 103:8) and so let us wait for Him and hear His cry.

Violence will not be our final song.


For Your Further Reading:

Chapter 7 of No More Faking Fine we walk through the “How Long” lament and see how Habakkuk teaches us to come out on the other side.

To Meditate On:

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of our deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2

Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

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