The Practice of Lament Offers the Gift of Asking “How”

God is used to hearing our “Hows” and “Whys.”

Living this side of Heaven leaves us in moments reeling with confusion, anger, and disappointment. We simply do not have the whole view. Resurrecting the practice of Lament gives us language to express our sorrow and sit in the uncomfortable place that cannot be resolved quickly with human answers. Our ancient spiritual ancestors understood this place which is who scripture is filled with examples of prayers of lament. Job, Psalms, Lamentations bear witness to people wrestling with living in this place of in-between.

How long, O Lord, will you look on?
    Rescue me from their ravages,
    my life from the lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
    in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Psalm 35:17-18

Western civilization moved away from sitting with the unknown and quickly embraced rationalism as the opportunity to find answers. While our Imago Dei certainly affirms a God who infuses his human creation with creativity and diverse gifts and skills, we cannot solve everything. And that is a good thing. Because recognizing our limited human power can catapult us into His presence. And we become like a children unhibited and vulnerable clamoring for comfort from their parent in a state of despair and posture of surrender.

It’s time to resurrect the practice of lamenting. To acknowledge that we can’t always fix suffering, whether intentionally inflicted or not, with pat answers, platitudes or “microwave” solutions. Sometimes we have to sit in the pain and recognize that God is in it with us.

Aubrey Sampson, in her book, The Louder Song, writes, “Lament says, “God you have described yourself as one thing, but my life, my community, and my city currently reveal something totally different. Please! Help me see your hand in this. You broke the power of evil on the cross and at your resurrection-so please be victorious again! Show me your goodness again!” Let us offer up our questions unhindered to God who “sees” us in our pain. He’s waiting.

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4 thoughts on “The Practice of Lament Offers the Gift of Asking “How”

  1. Sandra K Stein

    Interesting post about the practice of lamenting. I had not been aware of it, but it sounds comforting in that it’s a reminder that God is always with us, even in the midst of pain.
    Your FMF neighbor #39.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Stephanie, you really made me think, and this came to mind, from the inspiration of your words. I hope you like it.

    Our tears fall on the parch’ed earth,
    the proof of our lament,
    and, unseen, they give full birth
    to blessings God hath sent,
    for deep within the holy soil
    seeds of grace are sleeping,
    to be raised up by our toil,
    and salt tears we’re weeping.
    God must break the hearts of stone
    that Adam formed in sinful pride
    to know that which should not be known,
    for which First Eden died.
    We must be wrecked, and wrecked in full
    to rise again, unbreakable.

  3. Cindy

    There’s been a churning in my soul….yes a lamenting only I didn’t know that was what it is! Love everything about this Stephanie. Your writing always challenges and inspires me!


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