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Authentic Lament, Authentic Hope

This world is not perfect. 

It is not peace-full. It is not unbroken. It is not wholly good.

This world witnesses hardship, oppression, death, injustice; and it walks on. Relentless. Unapologetic.

It is a remarkable challenge to simply live here; to get by. And that’s on a normal day; let alone during a global pandemic with little clarity around where we are headed.

What does it mean to hope?

So what about those of us who believe there is more to life than simply existing; getting by? What does it mean to be immersed in spaces and places that are profoundly broken and seemingly unjust, and still be dedicated to a message of love, goodness, kindness? What does it mean to hope?

As someone who makes a living helping people tell their stories through video, I’ve learned you can get away with a lot and still tell a good story. The camera can be a little point and shoot, or a phone. You can use natural light and a cheap microphone. Better gear is certainly nice, but it’s not required to tell a compelling story; one that captures the attention of fellow human beings and inspires them into action. There is one thing, however, that you absolutely do need.


Without it, not only are we lying to each other, but we are lying to ourselves. 

By its very nature it’s illogical, uncomfortable.

I say all this because I believe that in order to truly participate in the hope we find in the Gospels and throughout the Christ-centered narrative, we must first be willing to fully acknowledge, embrace and share our authentic selves. It’s a surrendering of what we want ourselves to be and acceptance of who we simply are.

Of course, Jesus puts it far better when he says that those of us who lose our lives will find them and those of us who go on trying to salvage the image we’ve tried to create for ourselves will go on to lose it entirely. 

And like any paradox, this one is very difficult to accept. By its very nature it’s illogical, uncomfortable. It requires tremendous faith to give up the life and image we’ve been trying to built up for ourselves and let it all fall away in order to reveal the imperfect, flawed and often insecure person hiding behind the veil.

The hook though is that this imperfect, flawed, insecure self is the one that other imperfect, flawed insecure selves can actually relate to. It is our authentic selves that speak to the core of those around us; the people that we are living in this broken world with.

The follower of Jesus lives fully exposed, vulnerable, real.

In his letter to the church in Rome, the epicenter of civilization and social power at the time, Paul implored his peers to not be conformed by the world they were living in, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. This message demonstrates that while we are fully immersed in this world and every bit a part of it as anyone else, it is the Church’s responsibility to offer something else. To be the city on the hill, the light in the darkness. Those who wish to be part of this Gospel thing must be willing to step into the muck and brokenness around us and be willing to live in a way that is counter to it. The follower of this world lives behind a veil. The follower of Jesus lives fully exposed, vulnerable, real.

So what does all this mean for where we currently find ourselves? What does it mean to be truly authentic in the midst of a pandemic? We grieve.  Lamentation was a fundamental piece of the social identity that created the Church. We see this when we look at the book of Psalms, what was essentially the written expression of Judeo-Christian worship tradition, and compare them to contemporary church worship. 40% of the recorded psalms are labeled as psalms of lament.  Lament is a necessary component to humanity’s relationship with God. It was an understanding that in order to truly hope, one had to also know the value of lament.

We have every right to feel whatever it is we need to feel in this moment.

The paradox that I believe is required for these unprecedented times of a social media infused quarantined pandemic is to counter the growing sense of dread within the world not with celebration, joy or general happiness; but with lament. With the acknowledgement that what is going on around us is not okay, is very alarming, and we have every right to feel whatever it is we need to feel in this moment.

What would it look like for us to infuse our messages of hope with the full authenticity of our own grief, uncertainty, despair, sadness? How deeply could the Church speak to the rest of the world if it sought not merely to make people more comfortable or less afraid, but affirmed the unease and anxiety we all are feeling and offered simply to be present? What if the Christian message of hope was actually one that invited and even encouraged others to fully express their genuine emotional state without shame or fear?

Don't miss the other blogs in this series 'Growing Weary of Doing Good.'  

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash


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