Lament is a “passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” It is the language of suffering. Lament is honesty before God and between each other. There is suffering. There is death. We name these realities in lamenting while also looking beyond our present troubles to our hope in God. Laments are expressions of pain usually coupled with requests to the Lord for help. Laments often culminate with expressions of hope in the Lord to make things right.
About one-third of the Psalms are laments. Some are individual laments and many are community laments. Psalm 94 cries out to God for vengeance upon those who oppress the widow, foreigner, and orphan. The community sees God as their hope and ultimate justice in society.
Psalm 10 is brutally honest: “Why (God) do you stand far off? Why are you hiding?” Those who suffer can be honest with God. God is our Father, we have a relationship with the King, with the one who can save and right the wrongs. We name the reality: the wicked are truly wicked. They are ambushing the innocent while lying, oppressing others, arrogant, and boastful (vs. 2-11). Only God can save us!
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
– Psalm 10:14, 14
Yes, God is a God of love, but God is also a judge who will right the wrongs.
We can apply this to our world today.
I would invite us all to lament in prayer to God using the following as a pattern:
We worship You, God. You have set us free in every way. Jesus, you are our savior, our friend, our King. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you! Holy Spirit, come now and guide us. Hear our groans and our sorrow.
We cry out on behalf of the 40 million slaves in the world today. Set them free!
We ask You, Abba Father, to protect the estimated 140 million orphans and provide for their needs.
We lament the 7000 Yazhidi women who were taken as sex slaves by ISIS and beg You, our Healer, to heal those who are still alive.
We ask You, Yahweh Yireh (The Lord will Provide) to provide and care for the 10 million Venezuelans who have fled their country and now are vulnerable refugees.
We invite You, Holy Spirit to break our consumerism and selfishness and create in us humility and a passion for the lost and broken.
Holy Trinity, you are our only hope. We look to you to bring us hope and healing. Come save. Overwhelm us with your joy.
We highly recommend Soong Chan Rah’s book: Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Lands HERE