High School Senior, Lament Your Loss But Trust the Lord

We are living in an unprecedented spring season.

Typically this time of year, high-school seniors are playing their final season of spring sports. Its a time marked by proms, baccalaureate services and graduation ceremoniesusually.

These students have been in school for 13 long years. Theyve looked forward to walking across that stage to receive diplomas and celebrating all theyve accomplished. Its a ceremony that concludes one last year spent learning alongside friends theyve known all their lives. This is what we expectbut its not what the current crop of seniors are experiencing.

Given the nature and scope of the pandemic in our world, this loss may seem trivial. Someone might point out that missed events are nothing compared to the lives threatened by this virus, and thats obviously true. The coronavirus is a real danger for millions.

Less important does not mean unimportant.

Human lives are profoundly more important than senior promswhich iswhy, when faced with the choice was between going to school and social distancing to save lives, we chose to stay home. But less important does not mean unimportant. Something as culturally significant as a senior year is vital in its own way. And it matters a great deal to graduating seniors.

Message to the Class of 2020

To the class of 2020, I want to say how sorry I am this is happening. As a student pastor (and uncle to a senior), I know a number of you. I wish I could give you guys some kind of encouraging word and make it all better. Its not fair that youre missing out on these things. You didnt do anything to deserve this, but here you are.

What can you do?I encourage you to embrace what the Bible calls lament.

Lament is a feeling or expression of grief. Its not a word were very familiar with these days. Were conditioned to pretend that life is great all the time. When you ask someone how theyre doing, youre usually not prepared for them to respond with something like, Life is terrible right now. We assume theyll say things are going welljust like we say when people check on us. Being real and vulnerable about our hurts, fears, and anxieties isnt something were trained to do.

But the Bible is full of lament. If you read the book of Lamentations, its mostly pretty depressing. If you go to the Psalms, youll find 42 songs of lament. Nearly a third of that book is a record of people crying out to God in sorrow. Jesus himself said, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death (Matt. 26:38). Scripture shows that expressing our pain is not only ok, its necessary.

This year didnt turn out how any of us thought. Seniors didnt get the final year many of them had dreamed about. Even those who didnt necessarily have dreams are grieving over an experience they took for granted.

Its fitting to express grief over such things. We should lament.

Three Steps of Lament

Lamenting doesn’t mean distrusting God. Rather, in the biblical sense, it has a clear order:

  1. Expressing our grief to God
  2. Leaning on God for help.
  3. Trusting God and praising him.

I invite all the hurting seniors to express that to God. Be totally honest. In the Psalms, we see strong language that conveys grief. Crying out to God is something all his children are invited to do. Peter put it this way: “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

Bring your pain before the One who cares about it most.

Bring your pain before the One who cares about it most.

Coming before God with your pain is wise, because he loves you and can help you. That doesnt necessarily mean hell answer your prayer exactly how you want. It means he knows what hes doing and will work all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Knowing that God cares and is working things for our ultimate good allows us to trust him. It positions us to kneel before him in good times and bad, while believing hes going to carry us through these circumstances.

Lament with Hope

Lamentations 3 spends 20 verses outlining how unbelievably bad things were for the writer and his people, building up to the devastating statement, My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me (Lam. 3:20). He is totally crushed within himself. Hopeless. Defeated. But this I call to mind, he continues, and therefore have hope.

What brings hope to a man who is without any semblance of hope? This:

The steadfast love of theLORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are newevery morning; great is your faithfulness. TheLORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him. (Lam. 3:2224)

I dont know how long well be at home. I hope it isnt for much longer. I hope were able to keep flattening the curve and keep the most vulnerable from contracting the virus. But heres what we do know: God is ever present, and he is listening when we cry out. He cares about those who are sick and dying, and he cares about those mourning the loss of other things, like senior-year sports and graduations.

Senior, trust him with all of it, because he cares for you.

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