A Call to Lament
A guest post by Kristen Terrette
It’s a word I rarely used until about a year ago.
To lament means to passionately express grief or sorrow and, in my opinion, to go a step further in our repentance. When we repent, we feel sincere regret or remorse about our wrongdoing or sin and turn away from it. But lamenting brings a physical element to this sorrow, this guilt, this the feeling of shame. When we see people lament in the Bible, there’s an action to it. There is weeping. There is crying out. There is fervent prayer.
I use this word regularly of late. I’ve long thought slavery and the Trail of Tears, treating humans as property and “savages”, was sinful, shameful, and disgraceful. And in truth, there aren’t many Americans who don’t feel this way. But we’ve got a long way to go in lamenting and repenting for the hundreds of years of sin our country (USA) that our White ancestors were a part of.
When I look at our nation and finally truly see its sinful past against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) groups, and its effects happening even today, I lament my role in perpetuating it.
And what baffles me is the push back from White Christians over lamenting our sinful past. This very idea causes many White people to react in offense and shock because they feel that they do not need to lament something they weren’t a part of.
But I believe that’s simply not true and impossible.
Since the beginning of history, ethnic groups have been conquered, their lands taken, plundered, and their people were placed under the rule of the conqueror. Sometimes the conquerors destroyed those they deemed “unworthy” so completely that entire villages, towns, even nations were wiped out forever. And, sadly, it is a historical fact that this cycle happened to the Indigenous people in the United States. They were conquered in horrendous ways. Oftentimes, by White Christians.
And then there is the history of slavery in our nation.
With the Transatlantic Slave Trade, individuals were kidnapped and trafficked. We talk a lot about the current trafficking atrocities in the world. We’re passionate about ending this sin against humanity. But why does the same passion seem to be now politically incorrect when describing the Transatlantic Slave Trade in our own country, by calling it what it really was—a people group trafficked by White Christians?
Innocent men, women, and children were kidnapped, abused, murdered, raped, chained, torn apart from their families, forced into labor, their human dignity stripped, and placed in situations totally out of their control.
Some people may say that they never had slaves, but we live in a country whose thriving economy and very existence was built on human trafficking.
You may say your ancestors came to America for a new life after the abolition of slavery (as some of mine did). But your family, and mine, profit from an economy that was established through the forceful enslavement of human beings.
What is stopping us from seeing and admitting our past? From being willing to lament? Why are White Christians not leading this charge by the hundreds of thousands?
Blinded by the enemy and blind to the devil’s generational curse on us.
I lament this. I cry over this. I tell God I’m so sorry my country hurt Him and His beloved so badly. I tell Him we have sinned against Him and to please forgive us.
Daniel is an excellent example of the power of personal and national lamenting. According to Daniel 9:4-5 (NLT), he said: I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.”
And later in Daniel 9:16 (NLT), he pleads for God to turn His anger away again. The verse reads, “In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.”
Daniel was a great and godly man. He likely did not personally sin against God in this way, but he prays and laments anyway. He was not alive when his people (his ancestors before him), sinned against God, yet he prayed and lamented anyway.
I want to follow Daniel’s example. I want to break the curse of blindness over our nation’s sins. I don’t want to be the source of any more abuse to people of color. I want to make a difference, taking strides to make things right for those who have been hurt.
This is my plea for all of us. That we pray and seek God, read and inform ourselves, and not only from people who are like us. That we seek to be informed with an open mind and spirit of love. That we are brave and open to change. That we are bold in tearing any veil the enemy has over our eyes.
Lament. Let us begin to use this word freely and sincerely. Amen.
Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.
She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA, where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.
She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.
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