Posted October 23, 2013

I have a friend who is twelve. His whole life has been a series of surgeries to correct a painful physical condition. He has never known a day without pain.

I hear children complain all the time.

“We never get to buy the candy in the check out line.”

“My sister always goes first.”

“Last time I did the dishes.”

This is complaining. Lamenting is quite another matter. Lamenting is

“Why won’t God heal me?”

“I miss my Dad, but he’s gone and he’s never coming back.”

“No one at my school will talk to me and I’m so lonely.”

Lament contains pain, often anger, but mostly pain. As the adults of children we’re kidding ourselves if we think children don’t lament.

When I wrote Life with God for Children I felt it was necessary to include a lesson on Job. We need Job. We need permission to feel and ask the hard questions. In this lesson we make the space to ask the hard questions about suffering, and we make the space for God to answer. For the lesson we make something like prayer knots on a rope with beads that represent how we feel, how we think Job must feel. This prayer rope has a cross at one end to remind us that our Redeemer lives and when the pain is so hard, that may be our only hope.

Praying the lamenting Psalm 42 and 85 ICB with children is another good way to help children learn to express their pain. Pray it aloud with them and then let them write their own lamenting Psalm, or draw a picture of their pain.

Take the time and listen to their pain, then gather these precious ones into your arms and pray simply and honestly with them and for them.

I would not trade one minute I’ve had with my twelve year old friend. Hand in hand we walk into the throne room of God and lament together.

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