The account of the death and resurrection of Lazurus presents many hidden treasures, not the least of which is that grief is a natural and healthy process. Don’t get me wrong – grief is hard, it takes time and it can be very painful. After all, we were not designed for death, but for life. Our souls long for the wholeness that our Creator purposed for us to experience. So what if there is something to be gained through grief?

A few years after my dad died I remember hearing my mom say, “You don’t get over it – you just get used to it… grief has taught me the practice of lament.” Yes, lamenting is a practice. It doesn’t come naturally, but as we take our complaints, anger, sufferings, frustrations, and heartaches to God, we rediscover a loving Father, our Abba, who cares deeply and can be fully trusted. Ann Voskamp says, “Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty.”

65 of the 150 chapters in the book of Psalms are titled “Psalm of Lament”. Lament was practiced centuries ago so let’s learn from this ancient practice. Following are some steps to help you engage in the Practice of Lament:

Pray aloud a Psalm of Lament: Pray these prayers as your own, channeling your frustrations, disappointments, and sorrows into a posture of self-abandonment to God. Try replacing “I” with your own name.

Individual: 3-5, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 28, 31, 39, 42, 43, 52-57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 77, 86, 142
Communal: 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85, 90, 94
(Plus many more…)

Follow these Steps in the Practice of Lament:
Turn to God: Lament talks to God even if it’s messy.
Complaint: Biblical complaint vocalizes circumstances that do not seem to fit with God’s character or purposes. When it seems injustice rules, lament invites us to talk to God.
Ask: Asking in lament seeks more than relief; it yearns for the deliverance that fits with God’s character. Repeated requests become hopeful reminders of what God can do. Asking boldly serves to strengthen our resolve to not give up, and encourages us to embrace the destination of all lament: a renewal of trust.
Trust: Laments help us through suffering by directing our hearts to make the choice to trust in God’s purposes hidden behind the pain. They lead us through the sorrow towards trust and praise.

Write your own Prayer of Lament:

Address God: Name his attributes, his relation to you (Father, Abba, Savior, etc.), and recall his promises or past deeds on your behalf.
Complaint: Write out a heartfelt complaint that describes the suffering you are seeing or experiencing in honest and vivid terms.
Confession: Confess your trust in God even if you don’t feel it.
Pray for Deliverance: Plead the merits of Christ, appeal to his honor, cry out for deliverance, and ask God to intervene.
Thanksgiving: Express to God your thankfulness that he hears you.

Practicing lament can be a healing balm to our souls. Then as God invites us to a place of deeper trust and dependence, he allows our pain to bring hope and healing to others, which eventually resurrects sincere contentment and joy. It is here that God often reveals a way forward that we never thought possible. This gift can only come from a truly good God.

Lynette Fuson
Care & Counseling Director

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