I have always loved to sing. Some of my earliest memories include the times that I would climb the sky in my backyard swing, simultaneously serenading (at full voice) the neighbors with songs that my grandmother taught me—songs that she learned from her grandmother. (Especially my all time favorite song—Swing, Swing in the Apple Tree, also a favorite of all our children—and seventeen grandchildren.) Singing offered an outlet to express what was in my heart—the things lying heavy and sources of great pain, as well as those things which brought great joy and celebration.
Songs have been used throughout the ages as a vehicles of emotional expression and Sacred Scripture contains a wonderful example in the Book of Psalms.
The Psalms, all 150 of them, are wonderful examples of prayer—prayers that express every chord of emotion of which most of us can identify. While many of the psalms express praise and thanksgiving, the majority express lament—or “why is this happening to me?”What is interesting to me is that, while these psalms of lament focus on the psalmist’s grief, fear, despair, cry for deliverance, anger, etc, they always end on a “high note”. After pouring out their hearts to God, the psalmists always ended their tune by expressing great love, appreciation and TRUST in the God of all creation, the God whom they recognize as their source for all that hope.
What about you? Is there something laying heavy in your heart; something fearful or anger-filled that picks away at your peace? If so, why not “write” a psalm? Perhaps we might use Psalm 142 as an example.* “With my voice I cry out to the Lord…” Sing On!
Example and Break down of a Psalm of Lament
1. Address and introductory crying out
With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!
2. The Lament-what is really going on in me!
In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see; there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;no one cares for my soul.
3. Confession of trust
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
4. Prayer—what I want God to do about the situation
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!
5. Coming full circle--What I believe and desire to trust--Praise for what is
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.