I sat in church during Holy Week staring at the crucifix. As I pondered Christ’s death, a question arose in me, so I brought it to God. “How do we hold the painful reality of what happened on Good Friday and let it transform us so we can move into Easter joy?”
The image of Jesus on the cross with nails piercing his bloody hands caused me to turn my head away in sorrow and shame. “What are you trying to teach us? I asked the Lord. “How can we move beyond being self-absorbed in sorrow?”
After a few moments, I heard the answer pop up like a cartoon caption billowing over my head and flowing into my heart. Christ’s life doesn’t end with Good Friday. God’s love spilled over into the Resurrection and Pentecost. Now we are living vessels filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are the resurrection. We rise each day, every moment in the love of Christ.
As I held the conflicting emotions of Good Friday sorrow and Easter joy—one cupped in my left hand and the other in my right—I realized the invitation for me, for all of us, is to let God’s unconditional love embrace and transform us. We are the body of Christ, called to be vessels of divine love in our homes, at work, and with the people in our lives. We are the hands and feet of Christ.
From Despair to Hope
I didn’t realize it back then, but helped by my spiritual mentor, I now understand on that day sitting in church staring at the cross, I was lamenting.
Lamenting allows us to bring our sufferings, faults and failures to God. When we do, we gain wisdom and discover the healing power of hope and love.
By lamenting, we don’t deny or get stuck in our emotions. We name our emotions honestly—regardless of how raw they might be. We then bring them to God and watch as the Creator transforms us.
Jesus lamented over Lazarus’ death. He wept when the inhabitants of Jerusalem rejected him. He perspired blood when asking the Father to take away the cross.
In his book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament, Mark Vroegop writes, “God calls us to lament, to give expression to our pain and sorrow, which in turn leads to authentic hope, healing, and health.”
This Is How We Do It
In the Book of Psalms, David followed this pattern of lamenting:
- Naming his complaint
- Crying out to God for help
- Enacting the solutions God provides
Psalm 10 is a good example of David’s three-part lament.
Complaint. First, David complains, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” David shakes his fist at God, asking why the wicked man prospers while the good suffer and are crushed.
Call for Help. Next, David seeks God’s help by pleading, “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.”
Solution. Finally, David remembers God’s promise of divine protection. He proclaims, “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.”
Life is filled with paradox, and the grace of lamenting is the timeless gift God gives us whenever we encounter pain, suffering, or confusion.
Lamenting contains the grace of inner growth. Transformation. It opens our hearts to divine wisdom and holy healing.
This Easter and all year long, whenever your Good Friday’s hit you with a sucker punch of sorrow or confusion lean into the grace and power of lamenting and move into Easter Joy.
—brian j plachta
This article was originally published in the April edition of Faith Magazine
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Thanks, Brian. This is an excellent and true reminder. God has been teaching me about lament and on Good Friday I preached on taking our heart cries (lament) to the cross of Christ. I hope the joy of Easter is alive in you today.
Thanks Eugene. Sounds like God is working with amazing grace as we allow the Word to become flesh in and through us. Write and preach on dear friend!