I remember the look on my dad’s face as the doctor came through those swinging doors.
We had been waiting for hours in agony and anticipation for some sort of news to put our deepest fears to rest.
But when the conversation with the doctor ended with my dad returning to the waiting area and asking us all to follow him into a cramped little room where the doctor could speak with us all privately, I knew it wasn’t the news for which we were hoping and praying.
Cancer. My mom had cancer.
That’s the only word I heard come out of the doctor’s mouth. The rest of the day felt like a blur of images, all melting into one another—flashes of her in that hospital bed, wires and machines beeping everywhere. My family gathered around her with dread dropping like dead weight in our stomachs, knowing that she would have to wake up sooner or later and hear the worst.
Have you ever experienced that feeling of hopelessness and despair that crushes your lungs and makes the floor fly out beneath you?
It’s called grief.
It’s called sorrow.
It’s called suffering.
I’ve since learned that grief comes in all shapes and sizes. My grief came in the form of red, hot anger.
Up to that point, everything in my life had somewhat been under my control.
But my mom’s cancer diagnosis threatened to destroy everything. I couldn’t control this, and it infuriated me.
I reacted by angrily shutting out the Lord for a while—not knowing how to trust a God that would allow such pain.
I went through a time of disillusionment where I questioned everything I thought I knew about God.
Everything safe and comfortable was stripped from my life, and I wore my anger like a security blanket.
Instead of running to the Lord, I ran away from Him.Have you ever experienced that feeling of hopelessness and despair that crushes your lungs and makes the floor fly out beneath you?
An Invitation to Lament
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17 NIV
When life got hard, I got angry and ran away from God.
Maybe you have experienced something similar? Perhaps you know the deep pain of losing a loved one or watched them suffer needlessly.
Maybe the death of a dream haunts you, or a regret from your past keeps you up at night. Perhaps the betrayal of a spouse or trusted friend has left you feeling like you’ll never love again.
These instances hold the undercurrent of grief, sorrow, and suffering.
Since the day cancer disrupted my life, I’ve learned that God allows suffering in our lives for a reason.
Pain draws us closer to God and shapes us into His image. Darkness reminds us of our deep need for God’s light. Brokenness creates more space for His love to reside within us.
He is the shelter I should have run to! Suffering with the Lord is how we become most like Him.
If you have grief inside your bones and the weight is crushing you, I invite you to lament in the presence of God today.
‘Lament’ stems from the Latin word ‘lamenta,’ which means to weep and wail.
Lament means to express one’s deep grief about something; a passionate expression of grief or sorrow; moaning, howling, sobbing, groaning, or weeping.
In my anger, I didn’t allow myself to mourn – to weep, to show a passionate expression of my grief because I likened it to weakness.
Yet, Jesus Christ – the King, the Savior of the world, the defeater of evil and death – wept and wailed.
Jesus’s tears teach us that crying and grief don’t make us weak.
He wept over the death of a very dear friend in John 11:32-3, He wept as He rode into Jerusalem on a colt, knowing that His own death was ever near in Luke 19:41-42, and we’re told in Hebrews 5:7 that He wept fervently, offering His tears up to His heavenly Father who could save Him from death on a cross.
Tears and lamenting are a gateway to God’s loving, healing, and powerful presence.If you have grief inside your bones and the weight is crushing you, I invite you to lament in the presence of God today.
How to Lament Like a King
“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 NIV
When I think of people who lamented in the Bible, my mind immediately turns to king David.
He was a man that God called to be mighty, but if you really study the Psalms, you’ll learn that what made him mighty was his constant crying out to God.
David allowed his deep need for God, his pain, to pour out as an offering to the Lord, and we are invited to do the same.
Lamenting begins with trusting that God will catch every tear and hang on our every word.
Once we trust that God is good and believe in His love for us, we are then called to pour out everything to Him.
Lamenting invites the Lord to be our shelter, safe place, and refuge as He wraps His gentle arms around us.
Learning to lament can be an uncomfortable process. You may not know where to begin or even how to do it at all, and that’s ok.
There’s nothing comfortable about grief. Maybe the point is to grow so uncomfortable that we fall on our knees in surrender to God.Lamenting invites the Lord to be our shelter, safe place, and refuge as He wraps His gentle arms around us.
The Power of Simple Breath Prayers
To help you get to that place of surrender, of pouring out your heart in lament to the Lord, I thought it might be helpful to start with a simple prayer.
A short, simple prayer that syncs to the very rhythm of your breath and can be repeated until your heart melts and the tears fall.
Breath prayers can feel like lifelines in the middle of the ocean. They offer us a way to behold God in every moment as we search for God in the grief and sorrows of life.
God is there, He is present, and He has compassion because He understands what it’s like to feel crushed by the weight of it all.
His cross was heavy, and that’s why yours doesn’t have to stay that way, Beloved.
I have curated a collection of ten breath prayers inspired by the Psalms of Lament for you today. I hope they help you to lay your burdens down at the feet of the One who is strong enough to carry them.
Jesus Christ is the One who bottles up every tear (Ps 56:8), demolishes every fear (Is 41:10), and is constantly working out everything for our good (Rm 8:28).
Sometimes lamenting looks like naming an emotion, questioning and wrestling with God, or crying out to Him for help.
All of it is honest, messy, raw, and looks like taking your whole busted-up self to Jesus.
Just like grief, lamenting comes in all shapes and sizes, and I pray that these breath prayers will speak to what churns within you today.I have curated a collection of ten breath prayers inspired by the Psalms of Lament for you today.
10 Breath Prayers from the Psalms for Times of Lament
For those new to the spiritual practice of breath prayer, you simply breathe in the first part of the Scripture and breathe out the second part. Breath prayers are intended to sync to the normal rhythm of your breath, but you can also engage with these using deep breathing techniques! Read more about the practice of breath prayer here.
Prayer #1 Adapted from Psalm 42:1
Breathe in: As the deer pants for water.
Breathe out: So my soul pants for You, my God.
Prayer #2 Adapted from Psalm 42:6
Breathe in: My soul is downcast within me.
Breathe out: Help me remember You, Lord.
Prayer #3 Adapted from Psalm 42:7
Breathe in: Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls.
Breathe out: All Your waves and breakers sweep over me.
Prayer #4 Adapted from Psalm 130:1
Breathe in: Out of the depths, I cry to You, Lord.
Breathe out: Hear my voice.
Prayer #5 Adapted from Psalm 130:2
Breathe in: Let Your ears be attentive, Lord.
Breathe out: To my cry for mercy.
Prayer #6 Adapted from Psalm 6:2
Breathe in: Heal me, Lord.
Breathe out: For my bones are in agony.
Prayer #7 Adapted from Psalm 6:3
Breathe in: My soul is in deep anguish.
Breathe out: How long, Lord, how long?
8 Prayer #Adapted from Psalm 6:6
Breathe in: I am worn out, Lord, from my groaning.
Breathe out: All night long I flood my bed with weeping.
Prayer #9 Adapted from Psalm 38:22
Breathe in: Come quickly to help me.
Breathe out: My Lord and my Savior.
Prayer #10 Adapted from Psalm 10:1
Breathe in: Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Breathe out: Please, don’t hide Yourself from me.Breath prayers are intended to sync to the normal rhythm of your breath, but you can also engage with these using deep breathing techniques!
A Hope that Breaks Through the Dark
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” Hebrews 19-20 NIV
Lamenting is choosing to see God in the grief—looking for Him, reaching for Him, and leaning into Him when the floor turns to sinking sand.
Jesus Christ offers hope that breaks through the dark and enters like sweet honey over a hurting heart.
Lamenting helps us anchor our souls to true Hope and turn our hearts to the everlasting Light. Naming what we grieve and mourn in His presence invites Hope to make its home within us.
And when Hope is your home, tears may last through the night, but joy always comes at the dawning of first light (Ps 30:50).
Now that I understand the role of lament in the life of a believer, I view it as a healing and restorative gift from the Lord.
We are stronger when we choose to suffer with Him.
Celia Miller is a writer, blogger, and Etsy shop owner that provides resources to help you slow down, seek still moments, and behold God’s presence with you in the everyday. She’s the author of a 21-day Bible study titled, You Are Beloved, available on Amazon. For other resources to help you commune closely God, connect with Celia on Instagram.