Part of what the Bible seeks to teach us is how to cry. How to be sad. Much time is spent showing us how God’s people mourn after a tragedy.

Little time is spent explaining the existence of evil or why bad things happen to good people. More time, much more, is showing how God’s people cry and how they cry out to him.

Much lament is also a confession of sin, but that’s not true of all lament. Sometimes the speaker is crying out to God after suffering unjustly, at least from their point of view.

Glenn Pemberton, who was my dorm RA back in the day, has written a book about the Psalms of Lament. I haven’t read it, but knowing Glenn’s work, I’m sure it’s excellent. Richard Beck wrote a blog post based on some of the information in that book. He included a graphic representing a comparison the book makes, comparing the Psalms to modern hymnals. It’s interesting:

Graph taken from Experimental Theology blog

Our culture doesn’t like to cry. No wailing at funerals like in other cultures. Tears are hidden and apologized for.

The church needs to learn to cry. If Jesus, knowing that Lazarus would soon be raised, could shed a tear at his friend’s tomb, we too can cry upon seeing the pain of others. After what happened on Friday in Connecticut, tears are more than appropriate.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”” (Matthew 2:16–18)

Let the Bible teach us how to lament.

photo by ariadna on

5 thoughts on “Lament

  1. Pingback: We Need a Theology of Lamentation « Christianity 201

  2. C. Kevin Archer

    My dad taught me a little bit about this. As an elder and now as an elderly Christian, he makes it a practice to attend funerals. Those lamentations need to be heard and witnessed.

    Whenever you ask yourself “what can I do?” to comfort someone who has suffered a tragedy, do this… be a witness to their lamentations. Join their lamentations if you feel called, but mostly just be there to witness it and hear about it and accept it and to feel it with them. It is often uncomfortable and awkward and awful to witness this, but it is needed and wanted (subconsciously if not consciously)

    In lamentations we make some of our most life changing / life enhancing choices. Don’t rush past them or close them off.


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