A few years ago, I had the privilege of taking a class on the Psalms from Dr. Kathleen O'Connor at Columbia Theological Seminary. I say privilege because Dr. O'Connor loves the Psalms. Part of the work we were assigned during the class involved choosing a type of psalm (lament, happy, etc.) and writing one of our own. The assignment elicited an inward groan from me because I knew immediately what sort of psalm I needed to write: a lament. The idea of writing a lament was on the surface a simple one; yet underneath, an assignment that would pull from me difficult emotions surrounding my life and my relationship with God.
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
Through the varying depths and strengths of our experience of grief, God works with us in sorting out our issues, our questions, our needs, our desires. I have come to accept that God ensures we have what we need to do the work we need to do when we need to do it. The role we have in this is openness and acceptance.
In looking back at the Psalms class and the practice of writing a lament, I found that the movement from lament through grace into joy was exhilarating. By writing my own psalm, I realized that I had lived through that movement time and again. In seeing it as such, I saw the hope and comfort which kept me going from a different perspective. I experienced God as being an active participant and a companion on my journey.