Lent is the season that leads us to Easter. That is its purpose: to prepare us, individually and as a community, for the biggest party of the Christian year – the festival that stretches 50 days as we celebrate the unimaginable Good News that Christ is Risen from the dead!
But the truth is, Lent doesn’t feel like preparation for a party. Lent can feel more like preparation for a funeral. And, in a sense, it is – because the first job in Lent, the first step in finding our path to that Easter Party, is to lament. Lament is how we acknowledge the reality of the world we live in. To lament is to look full in the face the fragility, weakness, evil and awfulness of the world. To lament is to express our grief, our regret, and our deepest longing that things be different. Only when we learn to lament what is can we confidently turn to the hope of what might be.
But when we listen and name the hard truths – about our own sin, and the deep pain of the world we live in – our hearts begin to sing at the hope of a Savior. The bible gives us example after example of this journey, where lament leads to hope. Perhaps nowhere is it better expressed than in the hymnal of Scripture – the Psalms. It is in the Psalms that we see anger, bitterness, disappointment, and despair expressed. They are expressed in our worship because they are the reality that we sometimes live in. But alongside these emotions we also see hope and joy expressed. For there is something miraculous and uplifting that happens when we witness how God brings hope, joy, and wondrous things out of the ashes that this world creates. This is the truth I hold on to these days when I see what is happening in Ukraine. When I witness the devastation and trauma that the pandemic has wrought in our lives. I hold on to this truth and proclaim that even in the midst of this destruction “Great is Thy Faithfulness, O Lord My God!”
The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”