The Laments in God's Inspired Word Teach Us How to Mourn & Express Our Honest Questions
Laments make up more than one-third of the psalms. The contrast between Israel’s hymnbook and the church’s says a great deal about our failure to acknowledge suffering. If we don’t sing about suffering and struggle, why shouldn’t our people feel surprised when it comes?
Read Psalm 88, arguably the most discouraging portion of the Bible: “My soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave.... You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.... My eyes are dim with grief.... Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” Not exactly a sunny day! And listen to how it ends: “You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.”
Yet even then the psalmist cries out to “the God who saves me” (verse 1).
The psalms of lament grant us permission to express to God our honest questions, doubts, griefs and despair. That our heavenly Father chose to include these as inspired Scripture suggests that parents should encourage emotional honesty in their children. They should learn to voice to God and to us their disappointments, fears, and frustrations along with their dreams, happiness, and gratitude. Certainly, we should resist whining and self-pity, both in ourselves and our children. But we should also guard against pretense and the silent seeds of disillusionment and bitterness.
The book of Psalms brims with honest questions to God about evil and suffering and asks why God doesn’t intervene:
Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (10:1, ESV)
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?” (42:9, ESV)
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O LORD?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? (44:23–24, ESV)
By including laments in His inspired Word, God graciously invites our cries, so long as we remain willing to listen to His response.
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