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Lament

March 19, 2015 | By

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
[MARK 12:41-44]

The word lament is defined as “a passionate, expression of grief or sorrow” and biblical lamentation expresses sorrow that is embedded in prayerful worship and complete dependence on God. In lamenting, we cry out to God, to hear, to acknowledge and to act as we go through difficult situations. Thinking about this passage I wondered how Jesus’ observation of this poor widow expresses lament. He notices she is a poor widow, as her appearance and her contribution probably give away her social status in the community. As a poor widow, she undoubtedly has been through sorrow, with death taking away companionship and abundance only to leave loneliness and poverty. There is a strong likelihood that she has lamented much in her life, and in her destitute situation, she offers everything she has to the offering box and Jesus lifts her above all the other rich contributors.

How is she able to offer all she has, everything she has to live on? I believe she may have understood what the Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (34:18). She is able to give her all because her God is able to be close, to be sufficient when she is pained with grief and sorrow. Her comfort is not found in riches but in the presence of the God who understands her anguish. The Lord is aware of our hurt, our pain; He does not stand outside our sorrow, but is familiar with our grief and He desires for us to come to Him, to cry out to Him, to know we have hope in and through Him. It reminds me of Digory’s story, in The Magician’s Nephew, one of C.S. Lewis’ books in The Chronicles of Narnia. Digory’s thoughts are on his dying mother as Aslan asks if he is ready to “undo the wrong” he has done:

“But please, please, won’t you, can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at his face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. “My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet”.

As we come closer to the final weeks of Lent, leading up to the crucifixion, we will see the sorrow of Jesus as he suffers torture and death. We will understand Isaiah 53:3 – “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He is able to identify with us in our suffering and He patiently and lovingly offers us hope, offers us His presence. As we lament the brokenness in our lives and in the world around us, may we do so with hope knowing that Jesus not only identifies with us in our brokenness but that He will one day restore all that is broken for His glory.

Closing Prayer

Remembering Jesus, we make bold even in our lament to offer words of trust and praise: “I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.”
[The Worship Sourcebook]

This is part of a series of Lent related blog posts written by various members of The Crossroad body and inspired by the free devotional guide Journey To The Cross. Closing Prayer added from The Worship Sourcebook.