Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lament: A Preface and a Poem

A Preface on Lament

The thing about living is it's hard. And the thing about redemption is it's best recognized after the heartache. Lament is a necessary part of the grace process. Lament is where we own our failings, admit our shortcomings, and embrace our need. Lament is where we unabashedly say that life is far from easy and pain can be a frequent companion and answers aren't always quick to the rescue.

I believe that those of us who follow Jesus need to lament a little more. This world is doggone crazy sometimes. My heart is doggone ugly sometimes. And the kingdom needs to be a place we can plant our lament in the ground of God's goodness. That's the only way it will flower and bear fruit. It's the only way lament is redeemed. After it's been accepted, confessed, revealed, expressed.

Jesus people love to quote Lamentations 3:22-23. It's the "goes down easy" words about God's mercies that could lose their meaning on the near side of simplicity. But before we ever get to the great faithfulness of God, the author of this book has put 21 verses of "just plain hard" first. Why? Because redemption is best recognized after the heartache. And lament becomes our invitation to embrace heartache so that we might clearly see redemption.

So, here's a poem about the hard. And it doesn't end neatly. It leaves my lament open and unresolved. That may feel uncomfortable but we need to remember that resolution in real life doesn't always come swooping in on immediate wings. This is my attempt at a poetic kind of lament. An embracing of my own kind of brokenness because in claiming the painful, we can be released to recognize our redemption.

Lament I

It's funny how the cold dark can create a cold sweat;
how lonely feels cramped;
how lying voices crowd a mind
and coup d'├ętat their way into power
and waterboard the truth.

Gasping hard for breath
that would oxygenate freedom.
Hope drowning;
under the weight of expectation
and the tyranny of perfection.

Inmate without steel bars.
Maximum security prison built from insecurities.
This cell block of "not good enough."
It's blackmarket currency is peace.
Taken piece by piece.
Stolen. Given. Bartered.

This silent suffering is prevalent, predictable.
Masked by money
or fame
or position.
Busyness is the morphine.
Accomplishment the valium.
Numbing the bastilled pain.

To no avail.
A dungeon where
freedom's call is repressed,
and worth is forgotten in Comparison's shadow.
Invisible shackles remain.
Self it's own warden,
and cruelest taskmaster.


  1. Thank you, Niki. Even though these words are your lamentations, they speak to my heart as well.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I know many know the prison of not good enough and always striving. May you find as your lament that God is allowed to do His good work in you.

  2. I love your imagery. And my heart hurts for yours

    1. Thanks, Maggie. My heart is in good hands that are doing their mercy work every day. I'm doing ok. This lament is just my way of trying to help others own their own hard. We all need hope and the good work of redemption.

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