“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”Psalm 63:1
My maternal great-grandparents were Swedish immigrants, and their children spoke Swedish in their home until they were old enough to go to school. Gradually, English replaced their mother tongue as their everyday language into adulthood.
As believers, we’ve all had a sort of language switch, too. We once spoke the language of Dependence, but as we grew up, we learned to speak Self-Reliance, and that supplanted our first language. Our culture discourages us from vocalizing dependence on anyone, especially on God. We’re expected to be self-determining and self-sufficient; needed, but never needy. Some who are desperately needy but defiantly proud prefer to voice complaints or demands, but have no word for “Thank you.” So dependent cries to God go unuttered—until He places us in the desert, a dry and parched land with no resources or exit. There, we learn to thirst and long for Him alone. Lament is the dialect of the desert. David spoke it fluently, and the Psalms are rich with this forgotten tongue. Let’s learn to use it!
The Lord’s ear is attuned to the language of lament. He’s “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).