What do we do when life hurts? Pastor Oliver encourages us to turn to God in lamentation and let His Word comfort and strengthen us.
Pastor Eugene talked about how, as believers and as a church, we should learn how to lament this past Sunday. What is biblical lament? To lament is to express our sorrow and mourning to God. The Bible gives many examples of God's people giving voice to the sadness in their hearts in lamentation. Genesis 50:10 tells us that Joseph and the rest of his family mourned the loss of his father, Jacob. They expressed grief over a bereavement. In Psalm 56:2 & 8, David lamented over his personal troubles:
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly...
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
And yet, amid his sadness, he drew comfort that God heard him and remembered his tears. In Lamentations 2:5 and Amos 5:1-2, we see the people of God mourning over God’s judgement of their sin. Finally, in Lamentations 3:39-40 and Ezekiel 9:3-6, we see mourning and deep sorrow over sin as a sign of Godly repentance. Contrary to some segments of "happy-clappy" Christian Religion, to mourn and express grief is clearly demonstrated in the Bible.
Why then should we learn to lament? Firstly, to mourn is to give voice to our sorrow, expressing our grief to God. Telling God honestly how we feel (and He already knows), is the first step to opening our heart to God's healing grace. Secondly, to lament is to express confidence that our God hears us. It is trusting that God has kept count of your tossings; put your tears in His bottle (c.f. Psalm 56:8). Thirdly, by expressing our sorrow and laying our troubles before our loving and sovereign God is to cultivate a dependence on our God—our only true hope. Fourthly, even Jesus cried out in sorrow. At the cross, Jesus cried out in Matthew 27:46,
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Jesus took on the lament of Psalm 22:1 and used it to give voice to His own sorrow and grief. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was sinless, also lamented and cried out to God. Then we as His followers amid our pain should follow His example and go before our God in lamentation when our hearts are heavy with grief. Lastly, learning to lament will loosen the grip that this present world has on our hearts. It will concurrently teach us to keep our eyes on the precious gospel promises that will be fully realised when Christ returns.
Real, fully alive Christianity teaches us to be humans fully alive in Christ—we do not ignore or hide our emotions. We learned to express it as a church community, as we come together to cry out before God. Even if you cannot do so for valid reasons, do not run away and hide your feelings. Instead, we express our emotions to God, who alone can fully understand us.
I remember a few years back, I was facing deep grief and sorrow. Having read Scripture of the Psalmist lamenting and crying out to God over the troubles he faced, and hearing the value of Godly lamentation taught, I went away for a day to cry out to God. I took my Bible, opened up to the book of Psalms and started reading from Psalm 1. As I read, I prayed and appropriated the words of the Psalmist, and I poured out my grief to God. I think I read to Psalm 33, and, through God's Words, God brought comfort and encouragement to my heart, even though at that moment, the situation remained unchanged. Sometimes God will graciously help to resolve our problems and bring restoration, sometimes not. Still, one thing is sure, the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3) will comfort and bring encouragement to His children. He does this through His Word as we turn to Him in our lamentations.
1. Last Friday (Jun 26), we had our Elder-led Prayer Meeting. We came together as a church to bring our prayers and thanksgiving before our God. I've listed some of the prayer points below so that you can also join us in lifting our voices and hearts to God.
Pray for the country of Malaysia:
- Pray for political stability, racial and religious harmony.
- Pray for churches as they conduct online service.
- Pray for the provision of visas for missionaries.
- Pray for the theological seminaries to-be effective in training leaders via online means.
Pray for Singapore:
- Give thanks to God for our moving to Phase 2 of our Covid-19 response, but pray for people to continue to be socially responsible in practising social distancing and wearing masks.
- Pray for our leaders as they continue to lead us in responding to the Covid-19 situation, striking a balance between lives and the economy.
- Pray for those (including our church members) who have been hit by Covid-19, either health-wise or financially.
- Pray for more hearts to be opened to Christ during this time.
- Pray for the upcoming General Election: that it will be peaceful and conducted in an honourable manner.
Pray for Grace Baptist Church:
- Give thanks to God for the safe arrival of Charlotte Monteagle (granddaughter of Gilbert and Lucy) and Odelia (daughter of Wen Xiu and Ze Xuan).
- Pray for our Facilities Management Committee: that they will work well with the appointed management company to keep our facilities in good condition.
- Pray that our church members will find ways to be connected to one another to encourage and stir one another towards love and good works.
- Pray for our new church interns as they start their internship in July.
- Pray for our elders and pastors that God will grant wisdom as we continue to find ways to shepherd and care for our flock in these unusual times.
2. There will be a Quarterly Congregational Meeting (QCM) after service this Sunday, July 5, at 11am over Zoom: https://tinyurl.com/qcmjuly2020. Do come and join us our we talk about, give thanks and pray for matters of the church as well as welcome new members.
3. Join us for Equip on Saturday, July 11, 330–530pm over Zoom: https://tinyurl.com/equip11072020. We will be learning about "What is the gospel?", understanding how God saves us through Jesus Christ and its application to church and life.
4. See you all at service this Sunday, July 5, at 9am. We will be livestreaming via our YouTube channel from our church premises. We will be looking at Psalm 40: A Song of Praise in the Midst of Grief. Pray for the Spirit of God to prepare our hearts to receive His Word.
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