“I feel like I’m choking.” Paul grasped his throat. “I’m anxious about Covid. I’m fearful of the violence in the streets. I’m tired of the media spewing biased news. Even the spiritual leaders I look up to have turned their voices into rhetoric steeped with political arrogance.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I’ve lost hope.”
“Life is heavy right now.” I leaned toward him. “How about we sit in the quiet for a few minutes and see if God has some wisdom to place upon your heart?”
We closed our eyes and sat in stillness for several moments. The whispers of our breath filled the silence with peace. I wasn’t sure what God might come up with, but I trusted the Spirit would speak.
“The parable of the sower came to mind.” Paul smiled as he sat straighter. “The world’s chaos, my self-doubt, and worry are the weeds strangling me.”
“What are you in the parable?” I asked. “There’s the weeds, the sower, the seed, and the soil. Which of those are you?”
“I’d like to think I’m the good soil. I’m open to letting God sow his wisdom in me so I can offer love and hope to others. But I need divine help to get past my fears.”
Paul continued talking through the parable. He recalled how the world was filled with terror and conflict during Jesus’ time on earth. The Romans oppressed the Jews. Many of the religious and political leaders were hypocrites living an elite life while preaching spiritual laws but failing to follow them. It was a time wrought with fear and anger. In the midst of it all, Jesus stirred the chaos by preaching the law of love and challenging the elite and powerful.
“I guess we’ve survived lots of tough times,” Paul said as he pondered history. “We went through Vietnam, 9/11, the measles, a polio epidemic, and we survived. We came out stronger. God’s never given up on us. I need to open my heart and let the Creator pour more grace on my soul so the world’s weeds don’t choke out the divine nutrients of love and hope.”
A smile on his face and the glimmer in his eyes told me God and Paul were working through his lament.
Lamenting’s Good for the Soul
As King David modeled throughout the Psalms, lamenting is a vital part of spiritual growth. We take our angst to God—we start by shaking our fists and naming our frustrations. Then we progress to asking for divine help. And finally, we receive the Spirit’s loving guidance. That’s how we move from fear to love.
In Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy—Discovering the Grace of Lament, Mark Vroegop reminds us that the art of lamenting is a doorway to inner peace and growth.
As we finished our chat, Paul’s voice reverberated once again with divine strength. “I won’t choke. I am good soil.”
—brian j plachta