Around my fourth grade year I found an ideal pair of sneakers that I was sure would complete my world if only I had them. They fit perfectly. Practically speaking, I also needed a new pair of play shoes.
I was attending a Christian Academy in Brazil, and each year we looked forward to the annual school bazaar. Since most of the school families were missionaries from the U.S., we all longed for the opportunity to purchase some American goods, especially if we had not been back in the U.S. for some years.
Whether it was nostalgia, homesickness or simply that the quality was better regarding some products, (for some Brazilian products were better made than American products), it was always fun to purchase American products to, as Brazilians say, “matar saudades.” Please allow me to digress in explaining this saying. No one seems to be able to translate this sentiment well. It is a rich emotion. It’s meaning is tied to filling that deep longing when we miss something or someone. I also believe the idea is connected to the things and people we love who help give us our identity.
So when I spied the pair of American navy blue, thick soled sneakers, I had an intuition that I should ask the family who manned the booth to hold them while I went to ask my parents if I could purchase them.
But I didn’t.
When I returned to purchase the shoes, they were gone.
The following week I noticed my friend Debbie sporting “my” American shoes! She really looked cute in them. I couldn’t fault her.
“I almost bought those shoes,” I said to my girlfriend Sueli at lunch as I was looking across the way at the blue beauties on Debbie’s feet.
“I did too!” Sueli added.
Same story as mine. How sad. We lamented together, but not for long.
Ironically, the next year a Brazilian tennis shoe company came out with nearly the same style shoe.
I bought a pair, as did some of my other friends. It was a happy day for our little teenage pack!
I wish all of my laments had turned around “in time” as this one did. Some didn’t. I will confess I have not always been as faithful to believe God as He has been faithful to fulfill His promises in His time.
But this I know. God will fulfill his promises in his time, including second, third and more chances at missed opportunities.
I am thankful for King David’s laments. Except for Psalm 88, all others end praising God. I have a place to go if others aren’t around or it’s not appropriate to speak to another person. I don’t lament alone for God is always near. He allows my soul to give voice to a sorrow in this world without undoing me. Because he’s present, he is my lament-aid.
It is a comfort to lament in the presence of God and His people when going through trials. Each one of us has a shoulder for another to cry on, a lovingly arm to wrap the hurting, and ears to hear our family’s petitions. Who knows, someday we may need a shoulder, a loving arm around us, or ears to hear our trials. Sometimes we simply go through trying times. We can grit our teeth, or we can lean more on God, receiving His comfort from whomever He sends our way. If we allow His grace to seep in, it firms us up more without hardening us.
A comforted soul who trusts God becomes a confident soul for God.
Here is what I believe today: A confident soul is more apt to seek peace and unity, and in turn offer it to others.
Oh my soul, are you downcast in need of refreshment, and are you hoping in the Lord?
Do you have a psalm that recently has spoken to your laments or praises?