Learning to Lament
The word lament is not common in our vocabulary. For some of you, lamenting may not be a concept you are familiar with. The Bible, however, is full of examples of this form of dealing with our emotions. People often confuse lamenting with crying. Lament is not the same as crying. Lamenting is a uniquely Christian concept. We find many examples of lamenting in the Bible. There is an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations, and over a third of the Psalms are laments. Jesus laments over Jerusalem at the end of Luke 13 and in his final hours of life.
Lamenting is a form of prayer. It is more than just venting frustrations, although honestly expressing your situational reality is a part of lamenting. Lamenting, when done properly, can feel almost disrespectful. God, however, views lamenting as a sign that we are engaged with God through living faith. The world we live in is broken and full of sin. If the broken parts of our world and the broken people in our lives do not break our hearts and cause us to honestly plead with our Heavenly Father, then we may not know the love of God the way we think we do.
How Do I Lament?
Lamenting should consist of three essential parts. First, we should honestly acknowledge the brokenness we feel in our lives. We should not try to sugar coat how we are feeling and try to use overly religious words. We should tell God exactly how we are feeling. This is the part that can make you feel as though you are being disrespectful toward God. However, remember God is all-knowing and if you have been thinking it, he already knows it! So be honest just like when confessing your sin. Be specific with how you are feeling. Then once you have finished explaining your situational reality, turn to God’s word to help you see the ultimate reality.
The ultimate reality for every believer is that they find themselves resting in the hand of a loving, faithful, good, and sovereign God. Take some time to write out how the ultimate reality should inform your situational reality. You might need to involve a trusted friend to help you see the ultimate truth in your life. Once you have written out the ultimate reality, you will have completed your lament.
The final part of a lament is the response. Upon reminding yourself of the ultimate reality that should lead you to respond to God. The reaction may be one of praise, as we see modeled in several of the Psalms. The response may be compassion for those that have rejected you. You may find yourself praying for them the way Jesus prays for the city that will soon crucify him.
Ready to get started?
If you need help getting started there are two PDFs in the top right you can download to help you.