Gospel Hope Creates Space for Lament

by | Jun 17, 2024

I’ve noticed some strange behavior from some friends of mine. It has come up in several different relationships over the last few years. They are all intelligent, successful, and pretty happy people. I love them dearly. But these friends are not Christians. 

The thing I keep noticing is that these friends seem unable to acknowledge hard things that happen in their lives. There seems an almost pathological need to downplay them. The money problems are not that bad, the health problems not that severe, the broken relationships not that big a deal, the deaths not that sad. 

The more I see it happening, the more incongruous it seems, given what else I know of these intelligent people. Some of these same friends have, at times and with kindness, questioned my beliefs and the hope I have in Jesus. “After all, what kind of modern, sophisticated person can believe in the hope of heaven?” the familiar argument goes.

Against this line of thought, John Lennox argues that atheism is A fairy story for those afraid of the light.The modern skeptic who might pride himself on shedding the hope of heaven might seem bold and intellectually chaste. But remember that cynicism is not a more intellectually serious position than hopefulness. And, as my interactions with my friends are teaching me, human beings are not designed to run on hopelessness. Something will break.

It is the hope of the gospel that leaves space for real, true lament. Christians are filled with stores of hope . The Spirit personally is the downpayment of our future hope until we fully receive it, and the myriad unashamed promises of God give us hope for our future. 

Gospel hope can allow us to look at a cancer diagnosis, a failing marriage, an act of senseless violence and say, “That’s bad.” We don’t have to look on a bright side that’s not there. We don’t need to find a bright side in the situation itself because we know the God who is working all things, good and bad, according to the good of those He’s called (Romans 8:28). 

It’s this same hope that can allow us to look at our racial history—and in many aspects, our racial present—and say, “That’s bad.” We don’t have to ignore it, deny it, or downplay it. We don’t need revisionist history. We don’t need to indulge fantasies like the lost cause to make ourselves feel better. 

Gospel people can sit with hard things and lament them. We take our pain to God because He knows what to do with it. And He’s told us how this all ends, so we can trust that these bad things please Him even less than they do us. 

We have tried to create resources for you as you process and lament the hard racial realities around us. You can find those here. We have curated these not because we think God’s people should be miserable all the time. We are banking on the hope that godly lament will lead to comfort (Matthew 5:4). If we are not lamenting during our time in this fallen world, we may be acting more like non-Christians than followers of Jesus. 

 


Footnotes: I had the idea for this article while listening to this sermon by Dustin Ratcliff, pastor at Iron City Church in Birmingham. It’s worth your time: https://ironcitychurch.org/podcast-1/2024/5/6/the-subversive-kingdom-the-kingdom-of-the-lowly-matthew-53-5

Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that your non-Christian friends would come to faith in Jesus and have this kind of hope. 
  2. Think of something in our world that is troubling you. Take it in lament to God. 
  3. Pray for refreshment from the Holy Spirit.




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Author

  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

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