Outpourings of the Heart Part 1: The Power of Lamenting
Naming the Unnamed Things
What’s something in your life, friend, that is causing you grief, sadness, or sorrow?
Have you named it?
In her book Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle says,
“Our names are part of our wholeness. To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love. Naming is powerful when it comes to people. But it’s powerful for other things as well.”
To give how we’re feeling, and why we’re feeling it a name, brings the emotions that we carry from behind the curtain of darkness and into the marvelous Light of Jesus’ healing, life-giving presence.
Especially when we name the emotion or hurt and bring it to Him.
That is, after all, what King David did. He outpoured to the Creator and allowed the Lord into each and every corner of His imperfect, broken, wayward heart.
As we travel through this blog series, I want to look at all the different ways that David outpoured to the Creator. Today, I want to begin by examining some of David’s sorrows and how he approached God with what made him hurt.
I want to observe how King David lamented to God.
The Power of Lamenting
First, let’s take a look at what lament means.
Lament: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow; wailing, moaning, groaning, weeping, crying, sobbing, keening, howling, complaining.
Sorrow isn’t something to stuff down deep, and showing it on the outside doesn’t make you weak. David is a beautiful testimony that lamenting, bringing your emotions to the feet of Jesus, is what makes you strong.
Grief, sadness, sorrow: they’re uncomfortable, awkward, even painful companions, but they’re essential to a soul’s healing and a heart’s mending.
In her book, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, LaTasha Morrison describes lamenting as a powerful tool that leads to a true connection with God.
“What is the purpose of lament? It allows us to connect with and grieve the reality of our sin and suffering. It draws us to a repentant connection with God in that suffering. Lament also serves as an effort to change God’s mind, to ask him to turn things around in our favor. Lament seeks God as comforter, healer, restorer, and redeemer. Somehow the act of lament reconnects us with God and leads us to hope and redemption.”
Sorrow poured out into God’s hands is what lamenting looks like, and this is where the road to wholeness and a true connection with God begins.
Observing How King David Lamented in Psalm 142
I want to look at Psalm 142 today, where we find King David lamenting and pouring his anguish, fears, and whole heart out to God. Before we dive in, though, it’s essential to read this Psalm with a little bit of context in mind.
Psalm 142 is the outpour of David’s heart in response to being on the run from King Saul.
Before David became one of the greatest kings of Israel, Saul was its ruler. At the time, David was an aide in the court of Saul. He worked under King Saul loyally and honorably. But when David began defeating the Philistines, one of Israel’s greatest enemies, he started to gain notoriety and favor with the people of Israel as a valiant warrior. In response to Israel’s adoration of David, King Saul became consumed with jealousy. Saul, feeling threatened and afraid that David would steal his crown, ordered his armies to hunt him down and kill him.
David, afraid for his very life, ran and hid in a cave called Adullam. Some scholars even believe that he lived among the muddy, lonely grounds of that cave for up to 6 months.
So not only was he forced to hide in fear for his life, but he did it in complete solitude in the dark, cold caverns of a musty cave.
Oh, how his heavy heart must’ve felt trapped in that gloomy place. How loud his mind must’ve been, screaming fear and horror at the possibility of being found out.
Now, friend, let’s take a closer look at how David responded to his circumstances as written in Psalm 142 and observe how he related to God through the act of lamenting.
Read it slowly, savor it and let his words sink in deep. Then, ask the Lord to reveal to you what He may be trying to teach you through David’s outpouring as you read.
I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before Him my complaint;
before Him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is You who watches over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise Your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of Your goodness to me.
His lamenting to the Lord is so passionate, sorrowful, and raw. I think it’s a beautiful, honest example of how to bring our hurts and wounds to the One true Healer.
The Four Ways David Related To God Through His Lamenting
As I read through Psalm 142, God pointed out four different ways David related to God as he lamented.
- David Acknowledged God
Did you notice how David began his lamenting? He acknowledged God, immediately stating that his outpouring was for the Lord’s ears. David, no matter how alone he may have felt, knew that he wasn’t truly alone. He invited God into his circumstances and chose to be honest and direct with the Lord in his lamenting. When we choose to acknowledge God and bring our wounded hearts to Him, He is always quick to listen, drawing us in with the comfort of His sweet presence. Inviting God into our grief gives us a fresh perspective. It brings healing, and it deepens our relationship with the One who comes close.
- David Poured Out His Complaint
King David held nothing back, telling God that “no one cares for his life” and that he “has no refuge.” He didn’t try to stuff his fears and sorrows down, and he didn’t try to sugarcoat it in the presence of God. Instead, David brought his real fears, his disappointments, his hurts to the feet of his Creator. This is the type of relationship that God deeply desires to have with each and every one of us. God wants us, beckons us, to come running to His feet with everything. There’s no such thing as a ‘small’ anything – complaint, grievance, sorrow, etc. – in the Kingdom of Heaven. Your Heavenly Father wants to hear about it all, and by pouring out your heart, your burden grows lighter because you’re reminded of the One who is capable of carrying it.
- David Praised God
Even in his anguish, even amidst his lamenting, David chose to praise God. I imagine he probably didn’t feel like praising Him considering his dire circumstances, but I think praising God through the storm helped remind David of who God is. When we choose to praise God even when we don’t feel like it, we are reminded of God’s character even in our lamenting. When we praise Him, we bring God’s love and faithfulness to the forefront of our minds and hearts and are reminded that He is good and is the One who is in total control of our lives.
- David Shared His Desire With God
David was very honest with God about what he wanted. The Psalm ends with David telling God of his desire to be set free from the prison he lived in. David didn’t shy away from bringing God the desires of his heart. When we share our desires with God, we permit Him to shape our heart’s longings to look more like His. When we bring our honest, raw desires to God, we’re given eyes to see how He may be working on our behalf. Friend, God wants you to bring your heart’s deepest desires to Him. Like a good and loving father, He longs to bless you and hear from you what your heart is longing for. He may not respond in the way you expect, and you may not get exactly what you want, but by inviting God into your desires, you are permitting Him to move.
Lamenting Changes Our Hearts
I enjoyed observing the progression of David’s lamenting in Psalm 142. It’s almost as if his heart grew softer with each word he spoke aloud to the Lord.
I don’t believe that lamenting changed David’s circumstances, at least not right away. But I do believe that by lamenting and outpouring everything to God, it was David’s heart that experienced the biggest change.
Lamenting to God softens us, dear one, and reminds us of who He is. It’s in those broken moments of raw, painful surrender that God comes close.
It’s where His presence lingers the longest and tastes the sweetest. It’s where we are shaped and molded to look more like Him.
It’s where we experience the joy that only He can give and the peace only He can provide.
Lamenting, pouring out your sorrows, wounds, hurts, and grievances to God is what He longs for.
An Invitation to Draw Closer
He wants to be a part of every aspect of your life, including the most terrible, ugly, and fearsome parts.
God’s heart aches to be in a relationship with you, His Beloved.
And that is what King David teaches us with every Psalm, with every outpour.
He teaches us that God is a personal, loving God who wants our all, our everything, our complete and undivided attention.
Through the act of lamenting to God, David is teaching us how to live wholeheartedly before our Creator.
I understand that the subject of lamenting is a heavy one, and there may be something weighing on your heart today that is causing unbearable pain.
Perhaps it’s a medical diagnosis, the death of a loved one, a betrayal, or rejection.
Maybe it’s a result of your own poor choices or personal struggles.
Whatever it may be, dear one, I want to leave you with a few actionable steps that you can take to begin this lamenting process in the presence of a God who loves you far more than you could ever imagine.
Give the hurt or wound a name: what’s causing you pain? Is it physical or emotional pain? Giving it a name brings self-awareness to the issue so you can begin to move forward.
Find a quiet space, grab a pen and paper and do what David did. I want you to write your own Psalm, your own lamentation out to God. Begin by acknowledging God, then pour out your complaint (sorrow, grief, wound), praise God, and then end by sharing your desires with Him. You can model your own Psalm after Psalm 142 or observe some of David’s other Psalms of lamenting: Psalms 13, 22, 69, 42,143.
I am praying for you, friend, and I am so proud of you for choosing to go on this journey with me.
A journey to living wholeheartedly in the presence of God.
Psst! There’s a free resource available in the Resource Library that’s meant to act as a companion to this blog post! It was created as a guide to walk you through the process of lamenting. I pray that is blesses you and you draws you deeper into the arms of Jesus!