Lament Devotional

As we wait on the Lord- we pray it is with open hands.

Legend tells of an ancient custom in Nepal: if a man loses something precious to him the rest of the tribe comes together, enters his home, and takes something else from him as well. This sounds so cruel, doesn’t it? Here is the reason and blessing behind this tradition. When a precious loss occurs, the other hand automatically clenches to keep what is left and the heart becomes lifeless or closed. Here stands the man cursing this one hand that has lost his treasure, bringing shame upon his family, while his other hand grips tightly to ensure he keeps what little is left. With clenched fist he threatens anyone who would get close enough to take away what is rightfully his.What does he look like now?

An angry man cursing his misfortune, his shriveled hand, and the many others he has learned to blame. But, when the tribe and their chief come to his house and empty the other hand, the man falls to the ground in anguish with open hands … open hands now able to receive from other tribe members who have experienced loss before him. This man- on his knees with open hands, blinded with tears and without strength- is able to receive comfort from fellow tribe members who fill his hands with baskets of bread, grain, jars of oil, tools for repairing, stones for a fireplace, carved shingles for a roof, and a place in their midst to call home. What he had was taken away, so he has room in his hands and his heart to receive abundance.

In this season of still shelter-in or almost-lock-down are our hands open to receive God’s blessing or, as things continue to be stripped away from us: going to school, items at the grocery store, or bigger things like jobs or health, have we clenched our fists?We may have much to be discouraged about, disappointed by, or even fearful of; what are we to do with these feelings that we have tight in our grasp? We look to the prophets and poets in the Bible and cry out to God just as those who have gone before. Habakuk is a beautiful book of personal lament between the prophet and God. He is fearful of Babylon occupation, deeply saddened by the idolatry and abuse that he sees around him, and he is wrestling with how God could still be good.

He says this in chapter 3:17-18: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

And yet! And yet he will rejoice in the Lord despite the present circumstances. Habakuk is not complaining—complaining is horizontal, peer-to-peer; lamenting is a vertical conversation between yourself and the Lord. How can we lament with open hands and be willing to wait for the Lord to fill them however He wills? Because He is good. Take a few minutes to pour out your sorrow to God. He wants to hear it. And as you lament, open your hands and wait to see how He will fill them.