Hope and Lament

It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from GOD. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. – Lamentation 3:26, 28-3

At our weekly staff chapel the other day a colleague shared an image that captured my imagination. He said that the way to move forward into a new year is to embrace both hope and lament. They are like the pedals of a bicycle. We move forward faster if we use both pedals.

There is a profound sense of uncertainty and fear in our world. War, poverty, addiction, injustice and so much more remind us of the grip of sin on all creation. As the old liturgy says, we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.

Lament invites us to lean into our pain and fear, to “take it full-face”, to confess, weep and pray. Ignoring the pain of our lives and of our world only deepens the darkness. The pathway to wholeness is always through our pain and fear, never around it.

Hope, on the other hand, invites us to see beyond the darkness. Hope invites us to believe that we are never alone, but that God in Christ is with us and at work in ways we can scarcely imagine. Hope empowers us to walk through our challenges, trusting that Love holds our hand and that Love will see us through.

Lament without hope paralyzes us. Hope without lament detaches us from reality. Both are needed to pedal forward through the uncertainty and opportunity of this new year.

So, what do you need to lament? What pain from the past or fear about the future do you need to lean into? Go ahead. Weep and pray. And open your heart to hope, to the voice of Love that whispers, “I am making all things new.”

Want to get started? Want to keep pedaling forward? Read Psalm 55 slowly and prayerfully.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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