This Sunday at Calvary Memorial, we did a full lament service as the corporate worship service. It was my first time attending a Sunday morning worship gathering given entirely to lament. It was well done, directing our hearts toward the God who laments and who has entered into our pains through Christ, and directing our hearts toward our neighbors who are suffering acutely. The sermon came from Psalm 22. I am grateful.
Below is the full text of one of the lament prayers offered during the service by our sister in Christ, Deborah Birkey, posted by permission. Later this week, I hope to post the text of another lament prayer offered during the service.
Lament for Ukraine
God and loving, intentional creator of all who live and breath
Jesus, Savior, Redeemer . . .
Spirit of comfort and hope who searches men’s hearts and knows all – from whom nothing is hidden
We cry out to you as a local body here in Oak Park over the war in Ukraine
Entering its 4th month of fighting
Every day we see and hear the devastating consequences of the violence between brothers that is as old as Cain and Abel
We see intense fighting in the east and all along the southern border and we cry out for bombs to stop dropping and tanks to stop rolling
We grieve and lament what is now the center of one of the largest human displacements in the world.
7 million internally displaced within the country and
6.6 million people who have fled Ukraine as refugees
We lament the terror and fear this wreaks upon people – especially children
We grieve the disruption and impact on neighboring countries Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary
We are heartbroken for families ripped apart and separated
Loss off loved ones who have died or been captured
Homes and villages and whole cities that have been flattened and destroyed . . . places of beauty and shared culture and history – and each home a sacred place where a family once lived
Sons and husbands who have been drafted – and the women and children left behind
Livelihoods disrupted . . . wheat that has not been planted – wheat that has been confiscated – wheat that cannot be shipped – the worldwide hunger that will be the consequence
The most vulnerable who are suffering – elderly, children, infirmed
Innocent Russians who find themselves hemmed in and in an impossible place – and subject to propaganda and deceit
The power of one man to perpetrate such evil and destruction – seemingly unchecked
There are no words
We long for the day when Isaiah 2 will be fully realized – when “God will judge between the nations … and they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and nation will not lift up sword against nation nor learn war anymore”
How long, oh Lord?!
Come Lord Jesus – sooner rather than later we cry to you.
We grieve for the impact on churches – and yet are deeply grateful and marvel at the strength of your church in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to stand as cities on a hill and beacons of light as places of refuge – where food and cots are provided as well as the Word of God and the comfort of community and fellowship.
The Church is truly living out “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and providing garments – literal and figurative – for those who are feel deeply the spirit of heaviness
Yet – how long can they stand? How much must they endure?
We see them trusting in your steadfast love. Allow their hearts to rejoice in your salvation and to still have songs on their lips and to see ways that you are dealing bountifully with them . . . we are counting on you to do this for them, Lord Jesus!
Alongside Ukraine we are dumbfounded and cannot comprehend the millions upon millions who have been forced to flee their homes around the world and the nearly 26.4 million refugees – half of whom are under the age of 18. Can it really be true that 1 in every 95 persons on earth have fled their homes as a result of conflict or persecution – forcibly displaced?
Democratic Republic of Congo
Spirit – we pray for those who in their weakness and stricken state cannot even pray. We trust you to do as you promised – to intercede on their behalf with groanings more than equal to theirs – and to do the absolutely impossible – to work all things together for good.
Deal with the evil
Strengthen the good
Defeat the enemy
Bring rescue and remedy
Embolden those who stand for the right and are dispensing the good in Jesus’ name
Oh God who “so loved the world” – every corner of the globe – we cry out to you to display your love in Ukraine and around the world
Oh God who conquered Satan and sin and death on the cross – defeat the evil being perpetrated around the world
Oh God who sees the sparrow fall – minister tenderly
Oh Christ who is acquainted with grief – be a balm to those who carry sorry
Oh fortress and stronghold – protect those who look to you – especially to children and vulnerable
Our eyes are on you. We look to you, Jesus. We must not look away yet we cannot carry this level of grief and loss. We cannot even begin to comprehend that you actually bore all of the sins of the world on your body on the cross – the violence and full magnitude of sins consequences, past present and future – ripping through your body.
You cried out, “why have you forsaken me?!” and “forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Incomprehensible.
With all creation we groan and grieve – knowing that our groaning is not incompatible with faith . . . We can almost hear the din of every creature on the face of the earth groaning and grieving in unison.
We cannot wait – we longingly ache for the day when that din of groaning and grieving gives way to a chorus of “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns”. May this hope bolster our faith and the faith and service of our brothers and sisters around the world – even as we groan while we wait.
In the name of Jesus, my Savior – Calvary’s Savior – the Savior of the World.