The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. – William Shakespeare, King Lear
This blog has been a place of processing, learning and growing through the hardships and trials of the last two years. And two weeks ago, I shared that I was in a new place – a better one – even if my footing still felt a little fragile. So when Tyndale House Publishers graciously provided me a copy of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament by Aubrey Sampson, it piqued my interest. But my honest thought was that I didn’t really need this as my disposition toward God and my family’s situation was improved. But I was wrong. I needed the truths of this book. And if you don’t currently need this message, at some point you will.
I now agree with the author 100% when she wrote, “In my youthful naivete’ I believed that hardships were supposed to be the exception to life, not the rule. But suffering is not an exception, after all. It’s not a surprise. It’s not an interruption to an otherwise easy life. The older I get, the more I realize that no person is untouched by some level of pain and heartache, big or small.” I believe we, the global church, have a skewed idea of what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord always“. And because of it, we are uncomfortable with pain and grief – our own and that of other people. Laments are an overlooked form of prayer and worship. In studying the laments of the Bible (Job, David, Jeremiah and more), we learn that laments bridge the gap between “current hopelessness and coming hope”. There’s hope because “we don’t lament to a void. We lament to the God who wants our laments.”
What is lament? A pouring out of our hearts to God. It’s an invitation to stop pretending we don’t suffer, to stop avoiding our big feelings and let go of control. Most believers in Jesus Christ, and even some non-believers know that God is not an agent of pain, evil or death. But in this broken world, we need to be able to admit that it’s often hard to make sense of a God who is able to stop pain, evil or death and sometimes doesn’t. So how are these types of questions…the “why’s?”, the “how longs?”, the “where are you’s?” worship? Because we still take them to God. “Lament is the art of trusting God no matter what he gives, no matter what he takes.”
When we cry out to God, we trust Him with our feelings, even as we struggle to trust Him with the circumstance.
God is big enough to handle our doubts and frustrations. He isn’t one bit threatened. He created our finite minds, in fact. It’s true that He wants our worship, but not just for worship sake. He wants us to come to revere Him and honor Him because we know Him and His character. That takes experience with Him and it means relationship with Him. “If we never acknowledge our pain to God, we will never truly know what it means to praise him on the other side of suffering. It is in our honest crying out to God about our pain that our worship of God grows more authentic…Lament is part of the rhythm of a deepening relationship with him.”
True confession: When I read non-fiction books, I never read the questions in the back of the book that are sometimes included for groups. This subject matter was so interesting to me that I read and wrote out answers to every one. I found catharsis and incredible wisdom – even in the appendix. I am not overstating the importance of this book to say when I say that I feel much better equipped to handle my pain and the pain of others after spending time between these pages.
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Theresa Boedeker says
Lauren, this book sounds wonderful. And you are right when you say we often think life with hardships are an exception to the rule, not the norm. The more life plays out, the more I see that no one gets through life without suffering. It is a universal thing we will all experience. Some sooner, some later. And if not us now, than our friend now who we want to support. And so what do we do? Lament and know that God is good and will carry us through.
I recently finished a bible study about Job and joy. Two words you don’t expect to go together. And the author said, maybe we should stop thinking about trials as a hardship, but as a blessing. Because God trusts us with the trial and is confident we will make it to the other side with his help.
God trusts us with the trail…I’m going to be chewing on that, Theresa. Thanks!
Thanks so much for stopping by!!This was a great post and what I needed to read at this time in my life….
I’m so glad, Debbie. Thank you for engaging!
This book sounds like a must-read, Lauren. This sentence: “The older I get, the more I realize that no person is untouched by some level of pain and heartache, big or small.” says it all. If you live long enough, your heart will be broken. Probably several times. God does not promise ease; He does promise to be there with us every step of the way, no matter how painful. Lamentations are a natural reaction to the human condition.
Yes, Laurie. I learned and am conintuing to learn so much about this.
Cheryl Gerou says
Thank you for sharing this great post. Lament is so important. I believe it really deepens our relationship with the Lord as we pour out our hearts. He knows our deepest hurts and wants to walk through them with us. The book you were so touched by sounds like one I will definitely read! Sweet blessings to you!
I highly recommend it, Cheryl. Blessings to you.
Shelbee on the Edge says
Lauren, thanks so much for sharing your review of this book. The bits of wisdom that you have quoted here are so helpful. Pain is a very great part of this life we live and when we get to the other side of it, if we are introspective enough that is when we realize that there is always a benefit to the process. Our pain teaches us how to feel and how to heal. It helps us recognize that we do not have control over all things and that is important to give up much of what we would like to control to our higher power. Pain brings us to acceptance and helps us find our strengths and our faith. I will have to check out this book, for sure.
It’s obvious you have gain a lot of wisdom from your pain, friend. Thanks for weighing in.
This does sound like a very helpful book. We don’t do enough lamenting in our prayers. I really love the thought that we don’t lament into a void. We lament to a loving Father. I first became acquainted with the idea of lament when I went to a seminar with Michael Card where he focused on lament as a form of worship. It was great! Blessings to you! I’m a neighbor at #Grace&Truth.
That seminar sounds eye opening. Thanks for weighing in, Gayl.
Always love reading your posts. Such depth, such truth. Love you friend.
Thank you, Shannon. You are a blessing to me!
Tea With Jennifer says
Sounds interesting Lauren, grief is a normal part of life but the western world runs from it! The eastern & European world embrace it then get on with life.
Lamenting is a foreign concept to us westerners but such a necessary one for balancing emotions…
That’s interesting to know. I hadn’t thought about Americans being so different from other parts of the world in this respect.
This book keeps showing up on my dashboard, and so I have thought I should read it. After reading your review, I definitely think I should read this book soon. Thank you for sharing this book and your review, Lauren!
I hope you learn as much as I did, Ronja. It is really changing my relationship with God.
Lucy At Home says
Yes I think you are right that we have lost the art of lamenting prayers. They are not encouraged – we feel we need to be people of faith (at least in words). Which is crazy, really, because reads our innermost thoughts anyway so why are we trying to pretend with him?? But there is comfort in knowing that we can talk all of this stuff through with God, even when we don’t understand #blogcrush
Yes! Thanks for weighing in, Lucy.
Patsy Burnette says
Thanks for sharing Laura and thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements! Shared on Twitter and scheduled with Tailwind. Followed you on Pinterest. Hardships are a natural part of life, for the Christian and non-Christian alike. It’s how we respond that’s so important. Non-Christians are watching to see if our faith is real! Great post!
Thank you Patsy! That’s my best friend’s name by the way. Parsy’s Are good people.
Julia Dale says
This book sounds like something I might be able to share after awhile with a family member whose spouse is in hospice right now. Thank you for your words and transparency.
Definitely, Julia. It is helping me so much.
Julie | This Main Line Life says
Thanks for the book review. It sounds like there is really a lot of wisdom here that could be helpful in anyone’s life.
I definitely agree Julie.
tweeted and will share with a suffering friend. thanks, dear lauren.
Thank you, Sue. I hope your friend finds it helpful. Praying for that right now.
Rebecca Jones says
Sometimes we just have to lament or keen from the crucible, I had to look that up. It is very serious praying like Jesus in agony. God is not our enemy, but the one who thought he could overthrow heaven. Sounds like a good read.
Yes, very good.
So true that we think bad times are not part of normal life when we are younger or that we are particularly unhappy that life is a mix of joys and challenges. Lament is such a powerful word and so little used these days. Looks like this book had a big influence on you and an interesting read. #ABloggingGoodTime
Very much so, Kate. I highly recommend it.
Annette, 3 Little Buttons says
It sounds like this book really spoke to you Lauren. I’ve heard lament being mentioned quite a bit in the historical novels I love to read – if I ever get a moment to myself. But it’s not something that you hear often, out loud, generally speaking. It’s so important to be able to let feelings go to be able to heal, unjudged. Thank you for sharing with the #dreamteam x
I ageee, Annette. And I love historic novels too. Thank you for weighing in.
Anna at Muttonstyle says
wouldn’t it be nice if hardships were an exception. Thank you for sharing on my link up. Hope you’ll join again this week on MuttonstyleMonday.
Thank you, Anna.