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Turning Your Complaint into a Lament

About three weeks ago I hit the COVID/work from home/missing people/cannot see my family/I need a dog WALL!

I was grieving all the things that were missing in my life. Individually, as a church, as a nation, we are grieving the loss of so many things, it is almost hard to count them all.

And you know what? That is okay to grieve. I do not need to feel ashamed that I am grieving. I also complained to God a little bit. That is okay, too. Did you know that the Psalms are FULL of complaints to God (approximately 1/3 of the whole book)? They are called laments.

There is even a whole book about laments called Lamentations.

The problem with my complaining is that it was just that – a complaint.

In the Women in the Word Thursday evening Bible study class that I attend, we studied the lament. There are both personal laments, as well as corporate laments. I learned how to lament (doesn’t it just sound better when I say “lament”?).  

There are actually six parts to a lament. I had step two down pat! No issues with that, but it just left me wanting and focused on ME.

1.    Address – Who is the psalm written to?

2.    Complaint or concern – What is the trouble and why is God being sought?

3.    Trust – the expression of trust in God.

4.    Deliverance – the request for God to deliver one from concern.

5.    Assurance – the confidence that God will Deliver.

6.    Praise – Praise and thanksgiving to God for past, present, and or future events.

One of the things that I love about the lament is that it turns the focus off the complaint or concern and focuses on God; it focuses on thanksgiving and reminds us of WHO God is.

After my hitting the wall experience, I met with my mentor and we talked through it a bit. It is nice to have someone to listen to me – no judgement, just listen. Then she confirmed what I knew I needed to be doing – focus on God and who he is, not my situation.  This is what I knew that I needed to do, and also knew that I needed to create a habit of praise and thanksgiving.  Combining this with the format of the lament is powerful!

Our assignment was to write a lament to God. So here is my attempt at writing a lament – including my complaint.  

A lament of Jill
To God, my comforter and refuge.
You have proven yourself faithful through the ages
I am lonely,
           tired of working from home,
                       burned out with COVID,
                                   andI miss my family.
I trust your sovereignty and that you are not surprised with a pandemic, and that you care for my family and know their needs.  
I plead with you to end the pandemic so that I may return to work with my colleagues and visit my aging parents.
As I continue to seek you and find my refuge in you, you will continue to comfort me.
I praise you for your unfailing love, you are my refuge, my comforter and hiding place.  

Now, as I find myself complaining to God – I make a habit of turning my complaint into a lament.

If you find yourself in the same boat – give it a try and see how you feel afterwards!

Jill Willeke

Women's Ministry Director


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