What is it to lament?

You make a lament when the pain you feel can’t be carried by mere words.
You make a lament when you’re so sad about something that you’d rather cry than speak.
You make a lament when you’re grieved so deeply that you want to throw-up.
You make a lament when you’re not sure what to do but you’ve got to do something with the feelings you’re feeling.
You make a lament when you’re not sure where God is in the midst of your pain or a lot of other people’s pain.

You make a lament when truly your only hope left is in a God who sees, a God who cares, and a God who can do something. 


Here are some other ways of articulating Lament from Christian voices:

NT Wright:
Lament is what happens when people ask, “Why?” and don’t get an answer. It’s where we get to when we move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failings and look more broadly at the suffering of the world…
The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments.

Soong-Chan Rah:
Lament recognizes a shameful history. Lament acknowledges the pain and suffering that has led to current injustices. Lament challenges the status quo of injustice. American Christians that flourish under the existing system seek to maintain the status quo and avoid lament.

Mark Vroegop:
A lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. It is a uniquely Christian prayer form as people look to God for help in the midst of their sorrow.

Most laments contain four elements: turn, complain, ask, and trust. Each is designed to move the weary-hearted saint toward a renewal of hope in God’s character, even when dark clouds linger. Turning to God in prayer is the first step. It refuses to allow a deadly prayerlessness to develop. Complaining lays out our hurts in blunt but humble terms. We tell God what is wrong and the depth of our struggles. Asking reclaims the promises of God’s word that seem distant, and it calls upon him to intervene. Finally, all laments end in trust. This is where biblical lament is designed to lead – a faith-filled renewal of what we know to be true…
Laments talk to God about circumstances that do not seem to fit with what we believe to be true about him…
Lament is one of the most theologically informed practices of the Christian faith. Believers cry out to God in their pain, complain, ask for help, and choose to trust because of what we believe.

Jack Wellman:
Lamenting is expressing great sorrow or regret and even grief about something or someone as in the loss of a life. This lamenting could be verbally expressed in wailing, weeping, and crying. To lament means that something horrific has likely happened in their life and it moves the person deep within their soul and it is outwardly expressed in such a way that it is demonstrative and can’t be overseen by others.

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