I had something else planned for this week’s blog but as I was out driving yesterday, I was listening to UCB Radio and heard an interview that made me change my mind. It’s not the subject of the interview I want to write about but a quote from a theologian that was mentioned during the interview. When I heard it I gave an audible ‘woah!’. The idea was so new to me but so obvious at the same time and resonated with my soul. The quote was “lament is worship in a minor key”
I don’t know anything about music theory but I know that music played in a minor key sounds more ‘sad’. To lament is ‘to express passionate grief, regret or disappointment about something’; ‘to rail at’, ‘to oppose’ ‘to cry, sob, howl and grieve’. (Definitions from the online dictionary)
“What!” I hear you say. “How can those things be worship?”
I carried on driving after hearing the quote, thinking about all the times I had brought my anger, pain, frustration and hurt to God; no doubt crying, no doubt using my internal ‘shouty’ voice, no doubt without a respectful or reverential tone. To ascribe those moments as ‘worship’ really struck me. I began to cry as I was driving. God received all of that grief, regret and disappointment as a sad song from my heart. Wow!
The bible has a whole book called Lamentations; a collection of 5 poems written by the prophet Jeremiah after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the Jews were exiled. He had spent 40 years telling the Jews that their rejection of God would lead to their demise but they had ignored him. The tone of the poems is bleak and pleading and rails against God for ‘even when I call out or cry for help, He shuts out my prayer.’ (Lamentations 3: 8). The final paragraph of the book ends with, ‘Why do you always forget us?’ (Lamentations 5: 20). I’ve often wondered why such a negative book was included in the Biblical Canon but now I understand, it was ‘worship in a minor key’
David tells us we can ‘pour out our heart to Him, for God is our refuge’(Psalm 62: 8). He was the expert at outpourings of grief and frustration. While some of the Psalms he wrote are hymns of praise others are heartfelt cries of despair: ‘worship in a minor key.’
When we bring our grief and pain to God, even in our anger and frustration, we are acknowledging Him as the Author of Creation. We are recognising His sovereignty. We are validating His omnipotence. If we did not believe in Him, we would not turn to Him. If we did not think He was LORD over all, we would not come to Him with our struggles. If we did not think He had authority over our situations, we would not make our complaints to Him.
When we bring our lamentations to God we are worshipping Him in a minor key. David said, ‘in my distress, I cried out to the LORD...He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.’ (Psalm 18: 6). God doesn’t just want our good days, He wants all of our days. He doesn’t just want our mountain top song, He wants our ‘pit of despair’ lamentation too. Never be afraid to cry out to God, it’s your worship of Him in a minor key and it ascends as incense before Him (Revelation 8:4).