The readings we are using September 22 include Jeremiah 8:18–19:1; 32:1-15, Psalm 137, and Lamentations 1:1-6. The Jeremiah readings relate to the impending conquest of Jerusalem by Babylon, and the Lamentations reading is part of the lament by the Judeans as a result of that conquest.
Readings in the Bible describe the grief, identify how some never got over their grief, some put their grief aside to make lives as best as they could while holding on to their identify, and some abandoned their identity altogether, just as people continue to do today.
Lament begins when people acknowledge painful losses, and lament begins a process that can lead to destructive despair, denial of previous self, or healing. Being ready to recognize the power to choose our response and being willing to make helpful responses shape the life that comes after a severe loss.
Parts of the Christian tradition and scriptures help some people make healing choices, and other parts prompt other people to make destructive choices. This possibility creates opportunity and danger when we turn to these resources in response to our losses or the losses of others. There are many other resources that offer the same mix of opportunity and danger, and these also need to be used carefully.
My guiding principles begin with the expression, “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” Life happens. Sometimes we receive consequences for things we have done. Sometimes we receive consequences for what other people have done. Sometimes random events intrude into our lives. Blame and guilt have limited usefulness in understanding and responding to events; sometimes they are necessary as starting points for healing, but are rarely helpful for very long.
Recognizing what we have lost and why that loss is important to us begins the process of healing or recovery. Assessing what we have left helps identify our resources for moving forward. Realigning our goals with our actual and potential resources helps many. Some need to wander for a while to test out what really sings to their hearts and minds before they choose a direction. Finding potential partners and building relationships with them contributes much to achieving success in reaching goals or even helpfully wandering in life.
For all this, lament is the beginning.