Rediscovering the lost art of lament

Lament is a process that addresses deep wounds and painful emotions. It is a biblical response to overwhelming circumstances, but lament is not fruitless. It can lead to hope, and then action. The answer to the question, “What makes you weep or pound the table in anger?” may also be the answer to the question of where our passion for giving lies.

By Stephen Um, The Good Book Blog

How does God want us to deal with the great difficulties of life? Does he want us to ignore them, to get over them, to power through them, or to be crushed by them?


He wants us to lament. That is the great lesson of a little-read passage in the Old Testament prophet, Micah. Following Micah, we will see that God actually invites his people to lament. He wants us to honestly assess what we’re seeing, and also to pour out our great sorrow to him at what we see.

The reality of lament

What is lament? Lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow – to mourn, to grieve, to beat one’s breast in anguish. A lament is not whining, complaining, griping, or grumbling. It is to say, “Woe is me!” (Micah 7:1): What misery is mine. It sums up the feeling of a grieving mother who has lost a child, or of a widow or widower facing a spouse’s funeral, or of a conquered nation. “Woe is me!” is only used in the most dire, grim, ruinous circumstances.

The Bible is not ashamed of lament. In the book of Psalms, 60 of the 150 are categorized as lament – 40 percent. There is one book in the Bible that is devoted to laments, and it is aptly named Lamentations. Why does the Bible embrace a lament? Because it is honest about human experience. It doesn’t settle for some superficially shallow way of describing what’s going on, as if to pretend that suffering is not serious or that it is just an illusion. We, too, must learn to meaningfully and honestly express the anguish of our hearts, if we are to avoid superficiality or pretense.

Read the full story at The Good Book.

Photo: Johannes Plenio, Unsplash

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