Every night for the past few months, I’ve allowed sadness to snuggle up into bed with me. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up.

It feels like I can’t escape it. Sometimes it’s all I think about. I feel like I can’t talk about my pain. I picture someone, somewhere eager to tell me to “get over it” or to “focus on the more positive things”.

But I can’t help it. My pain consumes me.

I’ve since learnt that lamenting is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, many people in the Bible lamented (there’s even a book of Lamentations). The righteous cry out (Psalms 34:17-18).

“Even in the midst of our pain, God does not spiritualise our pain away. All throughout the Bible God is deeply attracted to people in their brokenness,” says Esther Fleece.

A lament is a cry for God to come into our mess, activated by pain. It is us pouring out of grief overflowing, even when our spirits are crushed.


There was this wordless groaning in my spirit (Romans 8:26). It came from a place of misery; my spirit was crying out for redemption.

Slowly, I realised that all the mess I had accumulated under my proverbial rug had left me stranded on an island, all by myself. I was all alone with my grief.

But I still didn’t know what to do with it.

I felt close to death; I was emotionally numb, and every day went by in a blur. I would alienate myself from friends. If I could, I’d avoid anything remotely social.

I didn’t have the strength for conversations. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt that if I told anybody what I was going through, a) they wouldn’t understand and/or b) they’d give unsolicited textbook-advice that I really didn’t want.

It took me a while, but I finally resolved to take it up to God.


Lamenting requires uninhibited honesty. We’re not just talking about mere complaints, but passionate grieving that will arrest God’s attention. We cannot fool God with our plastered-on smiles. There is nothing in our hearts that is hidden from Him (Psalm 44:21).

On the Sundays I felt especially raw, I would manage to croak out promises over my life during worship. Some days, I would whisper a prayer while on the commute to work.

My heart was weeping and while I didn’t have the strength to be verbally coherent, I trusted that God understood the groaning in my spirit.

That’s when true worship takes place; it’s when we are left vulnerable in not knowing what to expect, but still choosing to put our trust in Him.

Even though I could not verbalise it, I lamented in writing. And there I discovered a new pain that came with the honesty.

It’s especially painful when we don’t get an immediate answer. Even after pouring everything out, I was still as clueless about what I needed to do to improve the situation I was in.

But I’m learning that’s when true worship takes place; it’s when we are left vulnerable in not knowing what to expect, but still choosing to put our trust in Him.


Instead of brushing your pain aside, learn how to build an altar out of it. The praise that has been birthed out of hurt is an incense from the fire of pain. Our sacrifice is our broken hearts (Psalm 51:17).

God will not turn away from it, so why should we?

We build an altar out of our pain by continuously going to God with it. The intentional act of surrendering our pride, our need to be in control and our fear – that is our worship unto Him.

We are asking God to have His way in us, so that we may become purified as we are in the crucible of Christlikeness.

Whatever we sow with our tears, we will reap in joy.

We need to make space for our laments. When we worship out of our pain, we acknowledge that He is sovereign. We are handing over to God the reins we had clung so tightly to.

I don’t think our finite minds can ever fully comprehend how our grief is part of the grand scheme of things. But we can be assured that our sacrifice of praise will be like a sweet fragrance to Him (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Whatever we sow with our tears, we will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5-6).

Navigating my way out of pain has not been easy. If anything, I’m more confused about things than I’ve ever been before. But I’m learning to make my pain count. Not by wallowing in self pity, but by offering it to the One who will take my ashes and trade it in for beauty.