The darkness closes in. Sadness, grief, loss, or some unspeakable sense of emptiness paralyzes. Each step feels like walking against the tide, pressing against of wall of nothingness. It seems easier to close the blinds. Turn over in bed. Lay in the dark.
Days are shorter. Nights are longer. The whole planet has got the blues. As Julie Miller sings,
“the man on the moon said the earth was blue
but you don’t have to leave to know that’s true”
Son House cried out,
“The blues ain’t nothing but a lowdown shaking chill
If you ain’t had ’em I hope you never will”
While it might seem there is no place for lament within worship, lamentation is rooted in the prayers of God’s people across the ages. The prophets give us songs and prayers that express our inner anguish.
For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol.(Ps 88:3)
My eye, my eye overflows with water;
Because the comforter, who should restore my life,
Is far from me. (Lamentations 1:16)
During the dark waiting of Advent, we take up this sadness of the soul in prayer. In worship. We wait with the tears of a world, broken under grief, anger, fear, confusion, hunger, death. In the absolute place of helplessness, we discover a Savior who became helpless, who descended into the desolation of humanity cut off from the love of God.
He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. We are not alone in the dark. He is present and He is coming. He meets us in our broken and contrite condition, and He is leading us into a communion of love. Step by step, ache by ache, trust by trust we will learn to live in His faithful love and live out His faithful love as we embrace those lost, lonely and broken all around us.
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight