Week 1: Creating Space between the Already and the Not Yet

Week 1: Creating Space between the Already and the Not Yet

For those of us who follow Jesus, we live with down payments on the “Already” of God’s Kingdom on earth. We see glimpses of God’s healing power, his love, and his victory over evil. But we also live in the “Not Yet” of a broken, sinful world.

It is in between the Already and the Not Yet where we wait expectantly for the return of Jesus, who will one day make all things right, whole, and complete. Thankfully, we experience glimpses of Gospel hope every time we see bits and pieces of God’s reign and presence. But that final redemptionGod’s Kingdom arriving in full, all brokenness redeemed, all evil thwarted, all suffering endedis our ultimate hope.

Lament creates a pathway between the Already and the Not Yet. Lament minds the gap between current hopelessness and coming hope. Lament anticipates new creation but also acknowledges the painful reality of now.

Lament is an overlooked biblical genre found all throughout Scripture. The Psalms alone contain around sixty-five laments, including laments for fallen warriors, laments for illnesses, laments for victims of suffering and death. There are laments of vengeance, protest, repentance, and even depression. Beyond the Psalms, the Scriptures also include words from famous lamenters like David, Moses, Job, Tamar (an oft-disregarded lamenter), Jeremiah, and of course, Jesus himself.

Even though laments fill the pages of our Bible, for most Western evangelicals lament remains unfamiliar, mostly absent from our church calendars and spiritual disciplines. But lament is actually a godly concept, a spiritual practice, and a powerful handhold in seasons of sorrow.

What makes lament different from grief is a small but essential nuance. In lament, we direct our heartache to God—not to an unfeeling abyss, not to a void, but to God, who is close with the brokenhearted and always rescues the crushed in spirit.[i]

Perhaps most importantly, to lament is to realize that God is not Tylenol. The goal of lament is not fast-acting pain relief. Ultimately, lament should lead us to sit before God with all of our sorrow, protests, and pain for as long as it takesuntil hope once again arrives.

A Reflection:

1. When you think about the chasm between the “already” and “not yet” of all of God’s promises, how can lament help you find hope in what is and what will be?

2. What are you anticipating most in the new creation? What do you long for as you think about heaven?

3. The ashes of Lent remind us of the death and brokenness in this world and that we have come from dust and will return to dust. What do you need to acknowledge in your “painful reality of now” today? What heartaches do you need to direct to God? What is God inviting you to release to him in repentance this Lenten season?

A Prayer:

Lord, as I find myself in between the already and the not yet, anxiously awaiting you to make right all the pain and brokenness in this world, help me to move towards hope. Teach me to anticipate all the of newness that will come in and through Jesus, while never ignoring the painful reality that so many people live in now. God, let me learn the spiritual discipline of lament. Amen.

A Practice: Silence + Solitude

As you begin this season of Lent, enter into a time of silence and solitude with the Lord. Find a place where you can sit in stillness, without distraction, and ask God to reveal places in your life which you need to lament. Invite the Spirit to speak to you. Pray for God to show you where you may be refusing to acknowledge the reality of this world, your current suffering, or your past pain. Listen to God’s response. More Copy: Next week, we’ll watch a recent video from Kevin sharing what it looks like to abide, and why he must.

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[i] Psalm 34:18.