Lament

A collection of resources to help us as we lean into lament.

Lament is a gift to us from a good, wise, loving God and it provides us a language for our suffering. Lament helps us to lean into our pain rather than attempt to control or suppress it, so that in a time of grief or suffering, though we may feel like have lost our very lives, we don’t have to lose our souls as well. Instead, in the deepest, darkest place of our suffering, we discover we are not alone there.

We’ve put together these resources to help you fully engage with God and express your pain and struggle in the complexities of life.

How do we lament for ourselves?

‘What did the writers of the Bible do in times of grief, loss and suffering? What did they do with their pain? They did the most courageous thing of all – they prayed it. They prayed it all. The Psalmists in particular gave voice to doubt, confusion, anger and even hatred, forming them all as prayers. They are daring and indiscriminate prayers and their words can guide our lips to pray the prayers we never imagined ourselves praying. These prayers meet us in the loneliest and darkest places of our existence and keep us company as we walk through our own “dark night of the soul.”

Alain Emerson, Luminous Dark

Scripture: Psalm 6:1-7 ; Psalm 22:1-8 ; Job 30:24-29 in The Message translation

Questions: 

  1. How does it make you feel to think about being completely raw and honest and unfiltered with God in your prayers? Why do you think you feel that way?
  2. How do you think lament can be helpful in our relationship and intimacy with God, as well as in our mental and emotional health?
  3. Try praying a prayer of lament now, expressing yourself honestly to God around whatever is laying most heavily on your heart at this time. If you are struggling to begin, maybe try praying Psalm 42 to get you started. Maybe also try writing your prayer of lament. Simply pick up pen and paper – don’t over-think it but just let the words come and write.

How do we lament for the pain and suffering around us?

‘Christian lament is not simply complaint. Yes, it stares clear-eyed at awfulness and even wonders if God has gone…Yet at its fullest, biblical lament expresses sorrow over losing a world that was once good alongside a belief that it can be made good again. Lament isn’t giving up, it’s giving over. When we lift up our sorrow and our pain, we turn it over to the only one who can meet it: our God.’

Josh Larsen, Movies Are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings

Lament helps us to lean into and engage with that pain and suffering, rather than attempt to hide from it or control or fix it. It is a way that we may enter into solidarity with those suffering. And lament also helps us to discover that, though we may feel like the entire world is shaking, even in the deepest, darkest place of pain and suffering we are not alone there and our own faith and hope can remain anchored as we weep with the world around us.

Scripture: Jeremiah 9:1 ; Psalm 44:9-26

Questions: 

  1. Why might this type of prayer be just as important as intercessory prayer when the world around us is suffering? What affect might lament have on our own hearts when it is on behalf of others?
  2. Can you think of times where Jesus expressed lament on behalf of others?
  3. Try praying a prayer of lament for others now, expressing yourself honestly to God around whatever/whoever is laying most heavily on your heart at this time. If you are struggling to begin, maybe try praying part of Psalm 44 or Lamentations 1 to get you started. Maybe also try writing your prayer of lament. Simply pick up pen and paper – don’t over-think it but just let the words come and write.