Country Singer Alan Jackson Teaches Us How to Lament

Last Sunday, we started a new worship series called Good Grief: Being real about what we’ve lost, finding words to describe our grief, and faithfully finding hope. You can click here to watch my first message.One of the first points made in the series about grief is that “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” I also taught that one faithful way to express grief is through lament. Lament takes all those conflicting emotions and directs them toward God. Even if the emotions are raw and the language is visceral, God wants to hear our honest feelings. As a result, a lament can often express the desire to both curse God and seek God’s help for our situation or circumstances. 

When we consider the loss we experience when our sense of certainty or security is threatened a lament like Psalm 137 can give words to our feelings. Sometimes our lament isn’t filled with sorrow or rage. Sometimes lament can be melancholy or a bit disorientating. When I consider the loss of certainty and security that came on September 11, 2001 Alan Jackson’s song Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning? is a faithful lament (trigger warning: video uses images from Sept 11). Give it a listen and notice the expression of various emotions. 

The song has all the elements of a lament scattered through the verses and chorus: There is an Address to God; Review of God’s faithfulness in the past; a complaint; a confession of sin or claim of innocence; a request for help; God’s response (often not stated); a vow to praise, statement of trust in God. In this song all the parts are there. Some are subtle, others quite obvious. 

If you are feeling those conflicting emotions of grief, no matter the trigger, try a lament as an expression of what you are feeling and being faithful in your grief. Lament is one way God heals our griefs. 

My prayers are with you.