The Place of Lament

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Walter Brueggemann, in a sermon on the psalms, discusses the place of lament. As he does so he begins by referring to occasions in the story of Jesus when the broken of the world cry out to Jesus. This lament may be as short as ‘Lord have mercy on me’, or it may be a deep request for Jesus to come into their home or Martha, in deep anguish, to ask why Jesus he hadn’t come when asked. ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Brueggemann then makes the point that God expects us to cry out to him, to invite Jesus into our lives, to pray that his mercy would be poured out upon us in the midst of suffering, grief, temptation and in the process of dying.

We have a part to play in the story of God, a response to make. The book of psalms which, amongst other things, is a collection of songs to be used in worship, in prayer and in praise, not only gives space for tears but calls upon us to call out to God in the midst of our pain and anguish. This is one reason prayer is so important.

As difficult as it might be for many of us to do well, prayer, in the end, is the cry of the dependent child, the means by which we cry out: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, and the means of bringing others to that same throne of grace.

For further reading

Brueggemann, Walter. (1984). The Message of the Psalms, Fortress Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. (2007). Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit, 2nd ed., Cascade Books.

What are the psalms of lament? Got Questions: Your questions, Biblical answers. (Website). Online: Retrieved on 7 February 2021.

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