This has been quite a week for all of us. First, we were informed that all high school students needed to switch to online learning, so students came in on Monday to receive instructions and to get their books. The entire atmosphere of the school changes when the high school students are not here. Besides the halls being quieter and there being a lot more space to move around, there is a sense of loss throughout the building. Their laughter and optimism are missed when we cannot interact with them in person on a daily basis.
Just as we were coming to grips with this loss, we were thrown into the situation of the attacks in the first district of the city. I had already gone to bed, when our phones started ringing. What a shock to hear, “turn on the news. There is a shooter loose in the streets of Vienna.” Needless to say, I wasn’t able to go back to sleep after that. The administrative team of the school kept in contact during the night, trying to determine what the news would mean for our school. It is so difficult to wait and wonder….and pray.
I am so thankful that I believe in a sovereign, all-powerful God who is in control in this world. I don’t know how people handle these horrific situations without a personal relationship with the God of the Universe! Even so, I am human. I grieve. I fear. I question. I feel loss. What does the Bible teach us about the healthy way to handle situations like these?
We had an all-staff meeting on Wednesday, the day we returned to school. I asked Mrs. Shawn Crane, our Guidance Counselor, if she would like to speak with the staff on this issue. She shared with us an article from “Desiring God” called Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well, written in April of 2019 by Pastor Mark Vroegop. In the article, Pastor Vroegop describes how lament differs from simple sorrow. Lament is a form of prayer that has the unique purpose of leading us toward trust. He says that, “it is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God.”
Where sorrow tempts us to run from God, lament turns us toward God. Lament features four elements:
- Turn to God
- Bring your complaint
- Ask boldly for help
- Choose to trust
Practically, what does that look like? Psalm 13 provides a wonderful example of lament. First, we begin by sharing our pain with God, simply by talking with Him about what is happening in our life. It may sound odd, but another feature of lament is that it also includes some type of complaint. Complain to God? It is not a sinful complaint of anger, but rather a pouring out of our pain, our questions, and the frustrations that are bothering us.
But don’t stop there. Actively seek God’s help even when the pain is strong. This is an act of faith as we hope in God’s promises and ask Him for help to trust Him. Finally, the end goal of lament is that it leads us to trust. This is when we can cry out, “Great is Thy faithfulness!” This is when I can say that I know God is with me because He’s carried me through similar times before.
I encourage you to read Pastor Vroegop’s complete article here to better understand the concept of lament.
Please be assured of my prayers for you and your family. If you find that you would like to talk with someone about this or any of the topics that I bring up in my Eagle articles, please feel free to let me know. I would love to share with you all that God has been teaching me during my 50 plus years as a child of God. I know that I can trust Him, even if there are times when I am clinging to His promising through my tears. You, too, can experience this same kind of trust and confidence.
Dr. Sharon C. Brobst, Director