Finding Healing Through Lament
It’s been about 6 months since my lung surgery. In that period of time, I’ve been on an intense spiritual, physical, and emotional roller coaster. It’s odd really, anytime you are diagnosed/admitted or told about a family member/friend who’s going through something major, you’d think the beginning would be the toughest part. After 3 major surgeries, I’ve learned that the beginning is just that . . . the beginning.
In the Beginning
When you initially learn about something terrible, your brain goes into fix-it mode. You spend your time strategizing with doctors about the plan of action. What are we going to do? When are we going to do it? How long will I be in the hospital? What’s the recovery time? These action items give you a distraction from the silence. You are surrounded by family, friends, doctors, and nurses. You are getting calls and texts to check-in and get updates. You feel the outpour of prayers and positive thoughts coming your way. And it helps you feel in control in a way. But as it should, this beginning comes to an end and you are left in the middle.
Once I was home, my mom left, the flower arrangements died, and I was cleared by my doctor, I was awarded the time to begin to process what had just happened to me. I had just had the most amazing, Godly miracle of healing happen to me, yet I was sadder than I had ever been. It didn’t make any sense. It was a mix of coming off pain medication, feeling pain, and not quite understanding the miracle I had just received. I was deeply depressed and the silence was deafening. I didn’t have the will to get out of bed, so I for sure was having a hard time giving praise for my healing. I mean, if I had been truly healed, why did I have to lose most of my lung? Caley told me she had been going through something really similar spiritually. And told me to listen to The Bible Project’s podcast on Praying Through Our Pain (Psalm 22).
Learning to Lament
The act of lamenting was something I had never heard of, or more so, thought of doing for myself. It’s a way of expressing confusion, processing emotion, and even a healthy way to be angry with God. It’s a beautiful thing how much He loves us, our own perfect Father allows us to yell at Him and question His authority. But more than anything, He understands that we are human, knows we can’t understand all His ways, and allows us to express this in a productive way. It’s been done so many times in the Bible, there’s even a book dedicated to it (Lamentations). So, I started praying Psalm 22 . . . a lot.
Psalm 22 starts out with David asking WHY. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”
Around the middle, David starts PLEADING. “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
Then at the end, David says, “You answered me!.” And the rest of the Psalm is of PRAISE.
I love to see that humans haven’t changed over the past 2,000 years (probably even longer). We need to process things. We need to feel the anger, sadness, injustice in the world. We need to ask why and plead for help. We need to bring others into our struggles (Mark 5:19) and be honest about what happened to us because we are all in a relationship with our creator. No one understands suffering more than Jesus. Tim Mackie references 22 connections between Psalm 22 and the crucifixion. Jesus himself says, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46). Our own creator became human to experience these things with us and free us from the bondage of sickness, depression, and sin. He had a direct line to the Father, and still asked, “why?” After something traumatic, it’s important to process the WHY. Even if you never get an answer, it’s OKAY to ask.
Learning to Love the Middle
Today, I’m still in the middle. I now understand that to be a miracle, it doesn't have to be instantaneous, and it doesn’t have to be what you envisioned. Most days I wake up singing praises for my life, very clearly seeing the silver lining. Some days I still lay round asking why these are the cards I’ve been dealt. But, I confess those thoughts. I talk to God about it. I find solace that Jesus understands because He’s suffered too. It’s always nice to have something in common with Him. I’ve been learning that life IS the middle. When you reach the end, it’s over. So, be human and feel all the feels. Turn them over and know that when you are in the darkness, He’s closest to you. (Psalm 34:17)