Week Two: “Little” Laments

Prayer: Loving God, you are present at every moment of our lives.  When we rejoice, you are cheering right along with us. When we weep, you catch our tears as though they were as precious as diamonds.  Whether our hurts are small or great, your will for us is healing and transformation. Help us to trust in your steadfast love and in your willingness to walk with us through all that life brings. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Reading: Psalm 42 (ELW Version) As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. I thirst for God, for the living God; when shall I come to appear before the presence of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long they say to me, “Where now is your God?” I pour out my soul when I think on these things; how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God, with shouts of thanksgiving, among those keeping festival. Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me? Put your trust in God, for I will yet give thanks to the one who is my help and my God. My soul is heavy within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon. One deep calls to another in the roar of your cascades; all your rapids and floods have gone over me. The Lord grants lovingkindness in the daytime; in the night season the Lord’s song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to the God of my strength, “Why have you rejected me, and why do I wander in such gloom while the enemy oppresses me?” While my bones are being broken, my enemies mock me to my face; all day long they mock me and say to me, “Where now is your God?” Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me? Put your trust in God, for I will yet give thanks to the one who is my help and my God.

Reflection:  This week we turn to so-called “little” laments. That is, those things we grieve that, in the grand scheme of life, may feel small, but still hurt. Think of the sadness of a child who has just dropped the remainder of their ice cream on the ground. Or the disappointment perhaps many faced throughout the pandemic of canceled plans or missed milestones. The writer of Psalm 42 writes about missing the times when he or she led the multitudes into the house of God. This is a grief that many of us can relate to, as many have deeply missed the joy of gathering for in person worship.

The thing about all of these supposed “little” laments is that when they start to add up, they are no longer quite so little. You may have heard the phrase “death by a thousand paper cuts” referring to a sense that one is being taken over by not one big negative event, but a whole bunch of small ones. Grief can be, at times, cumulative. One disappointment over the course of the year may well be within our ability to cope. Many disappointments, one right after another, may stretch our limits.

It is also good to consider that the “little” things give us an opportunity to learn how to embrace and work through our grief and disappointment (as opposed to just sweeping it all under the proverbial rug). For the child whose ice cream is melting into a puddle on the sidewalk, the sense of sadness and disappointment is very real. Rather than tell them it doesn’t matter (it does!) why not join in the lament and agree that it is really a sad thing when you lose something you were enjoying. Likewise, when we miss out on a special event because we’re stuck at home with a stomach bug, or when our favorite TV show gets cancelled, or our favorite coffee/tea mug falls to the ground and shatters, instead of telling ourselves we don’t care, it doesn’t matter, why not own the grief for a moment? Certainly these are not the sorts of things that we’ll end up dwelling on for weeks at a time. But it’s ok to admit that we’re not ok – to note that hey, this really stinks and I wish things were otherwise. It’s OK to offer these “little” sadnesses to the God of the universe, trusting that God has space even for non-earth-shattering hurts. When we do, and when we sense God’s compassion in those moments, it prepares us to turn over the “big” laments when those come along.

Questions for Reflection: What kinds of “small” disappointments have you experienced over the past few months?  How have you moved through the accompanying sadness that goes along with those disappointments?