In my previous post, I discussed the art of practicing lament through learning to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15).
This is difficult work. Encountering the pain of others is overwhelming. We want to "fix" things. We search for solutions. Practicing lament requires patience, listening, learning, and faithfulness.
We at YFC have learned a couple practical ways to practice lament:
1. "I'm sorry:" These are simple but profoundly helpful words. When absorbing the pain one has experienced, lengthy responses that are intended to be doses of encouragement are often untimely. They can confuse, shame, and overwhelm. People in grief need comfort through a listening and understanding counselor and friend. "I'm sorry" is the starting point for such a posture. "I'm sorry" captures that we are groaning with them. We recognize their hurt. We see the world is broken with them, in that moment.
We are learning to resist the lure to offer the "profound" to a discouraged heart and rather offer the simplicity of listening and saying "I'm sorry." This posture is ultimately one of love that shows genuine concern for humanity and beckons our need for a Redeemer.
2. Faithfulness in relationship: Even more powerful than saying "I'm sorry" is the faithfulness of relationships. We at YFC talk about a "ministry of presence" in which we keep showing up and investing in relationships. Practicing lament involves faithfully walking alongside hurting people, choosing to remain active in the trenches. Pain does not go away quickly. Relationships are invaluable. We are learning to more and more create a culture of faithfulness at each ministry site. People need to know we will be there.
Basically, we need to learn to say "I'm sorry" and then stay present in people's lives. Personally, it's such influences in my life that have had the most meaningful impact. May we learn to practice lament in such a manner that truly loves people and points to the gospel.