The first good Friday did not appear by any means good to those who were following Jesus. Their world was being turned upside down. The disciples, the 12 and the women who followed Jesus lost their sense of normality and purpose. Jesus was hanging on a cross about to die. They were filled with anguish that their messiah hung on a tree. When he died, they lost all sense of hope and mourned what they thought God was doing. It seemed like evil had won and that darkness had overcome the world. Even Jesus last words on the cross, the quote of the words of Psalm 22 ‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me” is a cry of lament. It is also an invitation for us as people of God to join in crying out to God in times of turmoil and hardship. Jesus experience of forsakenness is greater than we will ever have but we are called to share in the words of God’s people across the ages to bring all things to the one who hears us and the one who has the power to act on our behalf.
Ps 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Psalm 13:1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Lord we bring before you our world and cry out to you in longing as we see each day the spread of the coronavirus in our world. Our news feeds are full, and our hearts are heavy by the suffering we see and are experiencing each day. We are lost and confused. Our world has been turned upside down and none of us are free from the challenges this virus has brought. In anguish we cry to you our God and ask that you hear us.
Lord we weep for those who are sick at this time. Those who have been diagnosed with coronavirus and those who when the smallest sign of sickness arises, we wonder is this it. We mourn for those who are getting sicker who are being hospitalised, transferred to ICU’s and who face an illness where they cannot see their loved ones face to face. We grieve for those who die alone without saying goodbye to those they love. And for their friends and family that miss out on that one last kiss and hug. The cruelty of this illness that means the most vulnerable are often the most isolated.
We are saddened by the way words have been used to make those who are immunocompromised, or elderly, or have chronic illness, feel less valued in our world. That we have not seen the fullness of the image of God expressed in them and the way some have expressed that these beloved children are expendable. We ache that this creates greater disparity between the poor and vulnerable and the wealthy and powerful.
Lord we cry out to you on behalf of our front-line workers in our world doing all they can for those who are in most need right now and for keeping us as safe as possible. We cry for the nurses and doctors, physios, pharmacists, OTs and other health professionals who are on the frontline serving us. Who are overwhelmed by a sense of dread and impending chaos that they will see the realities of in ways that many of us cannot imagine. Who worry about bringing illness home to their families and are having to be isolated from them in an attempt to protect the ones they love. We are angered when we see these health professionals are abused and targeted out of fear as if they needed more to carry right now. We bring before you those who are often unseen and forgotten, our cleaners, garbage disposal workers, grocery store workers who serve us often without thanks or appreciation. We mourn that we sometimes consider these people the least of us and yet we could not survive without them. We mourn the challenges faced by police officers, paramedics and fire fighters who are doing all the can to keep people safe, to minimise the spread of disease and to quickly support those who are suffering. But they are often verbally attacked by those of us who don’t want our freedoms limited.
We mourn with teachers who cannot bring learning to their students face to face. Who long to provide stability and security but are having to do this at a distance. And who are putting in hours of extra work to try and cater for each student that they teach. For families who are trying to create structure and ways to engage their children thoughtfully but are also worn out and exhausted. We are sad for children who have lost the ability to spend time with friends and extended family and who don’t understand why so much has changed so suddenly.
We cry out for all those in positions of authority in our world who are burdened by stress of making policy and trying to form wise decision which may have life and death consequences for their people. Who have never faced a challenge like this in their life time and are having to make up the rule book as they go.
We mourn for our pastors and pastoral care workers who long to feed their people with your word and with the presence of community but are doing everything through screens and technology. As they bear the weight of pointing their flock to you, when faced with their own fears and challenges. For the ways that they are working desperately hard to change every aspect of ministry in an incredibly short period of time. We also mourn for the missionaries in our world, those who have had to return home quickly and for those who have remained on the field. We are saddened by the stress, turmoil and upheaval this must have caused many who are serving you away from their families and support networks.
Lord we are saddened by the impact this has had on all our workers, who contribute to our society in different ways. For all of those who are trying to work from home. For many there is no semblance of normality and that is incredibly unsettling. Lord we are grieved for those who have lost jobs and livelihood. For those who have had to move suddenly, for those who do not know how they are going to pay their rent or mortgage. We cry out for all that have been hit by increased financial burden at this time and are uncertain of the future.
Lord we ache for those who have pre-existing mental health conditions who are significantly impacted by this need for isolation. We cry out to you for those whose conditions worsen over this time, for those who didn’t know they had mental health challenges but now are unable to ignore it and for those who because of what is happening in our world develop mental illness. Lord we are afraid, we are hurting, we are unsure, we are sad, we are having trouble to find motivation, we are overwhelmed, we are lonely.
Lord we grieve for those who live alone and those who are single who are acutely impacted by isolation. For those who have limited to no physical contact with people at this time. We are sad for the ways that this new reality may impact them in ways we don’t expect or realise. We grieve for all those who feel lonely whether they have people nearby or not.
Lord we deeply mourn with those who are victims of domestic violence. Who are trapped in isolation with their abuser. We ache for them and for the fear they must be feeling at the acute danger that they face which is so different then the other challenges we face. We are devastated that their home and family is not a safe place and that they may be particularly unsure of where to find safety. Lord we cry out to you for all people who face injustice but particularly these victims.
Lord we grieve with those who face persecution for their faith at this time, where they are unsafe to meet together online because of the risk of governments finding out. Lord we ache for our brothers and sisters who cannot gather in any way at this time and who are at risk of imprisonment or death.
Lord we ache for all displaced people in our world, for those who are homeless, for those who are refugees and asylum seekers. We are saddened for those who have nowhere to go to seek safe shelter. For those in refugee camps who are terribly at risk if an outbreak occurs. We cry out to you for the ways our world has not cared for these people
Lord we cry out for all people who feel forgotten. Who acutely sense this right now. Who even by my words may have felt overlooked at this time. We sit with them and mourn with them.
Lord we bring you all these things knowing that you hear us. In remembering that Sunday is coming, and that hope is not lost. You Lord are faithful.
*I have had the blessing of being formed by lecturers at SMBC who have shaped my thoughts of lament. If you are interested in reading more on the practice of lament I would recommend the book Finding Lost Words edited by Kit Barker and Geoff Harper.
Louisa lives in Carlingford, Sydney with her husband Simon. Louisa is currently studying a Masters of Divinity at SMBC. Louisa also works as a registered nurse. She has a heart to see women pursue their callings in serving God with their whole life.