It is interesting to note that “there are more lament Psalms than any other kind in the Psalter.”[1] This fact reveals that God wants His people to cry out to Him for deliverance. But a lament is more than a cry for help, Mark Vroegop believes that it has a unique purpose: “It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God.”[2] In other words, it expresses a longing to find hope and comfort in God when the perplexities of life overwhelm the soul. Hence, it does not display a lack of faith in God or His promises but seeks to find refuge in Him during times of adversity.

For those who wonder how the lament Psalms can be applied today, I would first encourage them to see how a lament provides an opportunity to reflect on God’s past faithfulness. An affirmation of God’s past faithfulness is seen in Psalm 44:1-3 where the psalmist recounts how God delivered His people “in the days of old” (44:1) and how He drove out the nations and freed their forefathers from captivity (44:2-3). This practice is important because when life’s troubles become too heavy to bear, one can easily forget how God displayed His faithfulness in the past. It is crucial to understand that a lament is an opportunity to remember the saving acts of God in the past so that confidence in the Lord is renewed in the present.

Secondly, I would encourage them to enter the world of the psalmist and see how his misery caused him to express his agony to God (Ps. 61:1). For those who do not have the words to express their pain, a lament Psalm provides a language that enables one to express his feelings and frustrations to God (Ps. 13:1-2).

Lastly, a lament causes the sufferer to find hope in God. Tremper Longman III and Raymond Dillard note, “The turning from sorrow to joy at the end of many laments is an indication that the psalmist knew that God is a God who answers prayer.”[3] Indeed, a lament moves us to praise God and rejoice in His salvation.[4] 

The spiritual benefits of lament are too great to ignore. I believe that it plays an important role in Christian ministry. As a pastor, I see the need to help believers cultivate this prayer language so that they know how to pray when they experience a crisis in life. Vroegop explains, “Lament is the prayer language for God’s people as they live in a world marred by sin. It is how we talk to God about our sorrows as we renew our hope in his sovereign care.”[5]

When Christians learn to lament well by crying out to God for deliverance, remembering what He did in the past, finding hope and refuge in Him, and committing to praise Him no matter what, they are strengthened to live by faith and glorify God even in the midst of suffering. This is the kind of response to suffering the world needs to seea kind of hope that is undeterred by evil and pain. In light of all this, I agree with Vroegop’s conclusion: “It all leads to hope. More than the stages of grief, this prayer language moves us to renew our commitment to trust in God as we navigate the brokenness of life.”[6]

 


[1] Mark Gignilliat, Video Lecture. Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Lesson 18, August 23, 2017.

[2] “Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well,” Desiring God, last modified April 6, 2019, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god.

[3] Tremper Longman III and Raymond Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 249, Kindle.

[4] Mark Gignilliat, Video Lecture. Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Lesson 18, August 23, 2017.

[5] “Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well,” Desiring God, last modified April 6, 2019, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god.

[6] Ibid.