Navigating Change with Lament and GratitudeBy Marby Iglesias
September 8, 2020
These past few weeks have overturned our vision of the future and replaced them with new dreams and challenges. We are reminded that change is inevitable and that our stability and confidence does not come from never-changing circumstances but in an immovable God. One after another, our plans shifted: our home, our schooling decisions, our friendships, and even our financial picture. Inch by inch we began moving to form a new normal. In a few weeks I turn 30 and can’t help but recall how my mindset and worldview has also changed. Where previously certainty reigned, now brokenness and doubt reside. Life in my 20s was about arriving—checking off all the boxes on my life bucket list. Now life is much more about faithfulness and contentment despite the never-ending movement and change life offers.
As I sat in the rarity of a quiet house this past week, two words resounded: lament and gratitude. When we are aware of God opening new doors or closing old ones, both of these attitudes help us navigate change in a Christ-honoring way.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines lament as “to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively.” Change means the death of something, either figuratively or explicitly. As Christians who are surrounded by the positivity culture, we are too quick to “look at the bright side” then move on. Consequently, we minimize the loss that such change will bring. Schooling decisions for us this year brought a drastic change to our pace of life, to my planning of the future, and our family’s rhythm. Despite all the good that will come alongside it, some things are still lost and I want to acknowledge this.
First, God’s goodness to us in the past was seen in the beautiful things we are now leaving behind. This is an assurance that in every season God has made things for us to enjoy. Scripture says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11a).
And second, only heaven will be complete and without loss. My loss in this world helps me yearn more for heaven and eternity since there is not a season that is completely void of heartache. Ecclesiastes also says, “[H]e has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (3:11b).
Lament is deep because there was once beauty and love. We lament in seasons of change because we once loved and we grieve because we were made for eternity not to see the end of things we cherish. Lament takes pain at face value but does not let that pain lead to despair. Even with beautiful things awaiting at the gates of change, we must acknowledge that at the same time there is beauty being left behind, and for that, we lament.
As we move into a new season, it is easy to become consumed with the logistics of the change, the new bookbag, the new home décor, or the new friendships. But I have found the best change is followed by a deep sense of gratitude for what the Lord has provided. The adrenaline of change will soon settle and we will be left with the nostalgia of the past but if we have a firm assurance of the Lord’s leading us, we will withstand the temptation to yearn for the past. In every church move, relationship shift, school choice, and ministry opportunity, the fingerprints of God are evident if we take enough time to pray and recount his mercies.
“You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” Psalm 40:5
Let us proclaim, recount, write down, and annotate how we have seen the Lord’s provision during this transition and how he has confirmed our steps. Gratitude will abound in a heart that is quick to acknowledge God’s goodness even when the change we are experiencing is filled with heartbreak and fear. Gratitude also fills our hearts with faith as unexpected circumstances surround a new environment. We have seen him provide, we remember the prayers he answered, we have witnessed doors open before our eyes and it is with that confidence that we can navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead. Sometimes change is the fuel to your fire other times it’s what weighs down your soul. In each circumstance it is also an opportunity to recall the Lord’s goodness in the past and to trust in His faithfulness in the future.