Ed Gentry says recovering the practice of lament will help us be more authentic, Biblically faithful, and culturally relevant followers of Jesus.
Lament And Praise Respond To Reality
Songs of lament and songs of praise are both a response to reality. In our songs of praise and adoration, we respond to the reality of God’s revealed character: His holiness, goodness, faithfulness, majesty and tender care. While God’s unchanging character is certainly the only ultimate reality – until the final consummation of the Kingdom of God – there is also the reality of our broken world, which constantly impinges on our lives. It is to this reality that the Psalms address themselves.
Laments face head-on corporate and individual grief, pain, suffering and the resultant alienation. Their shrill tone gives voice to this suffering and keeps us from responding to our pain with denial or unmerited guilt. Much personal psychological pathos could be more easily resolved if we would learn to express our pain, anger, guilt, frustration, and disappointment.
Laments encourage us to face our individual and communal pain and demonstrate that the first and best response to pain and suffering is to bring it before God. Laments help wrestle with suffering when we are relatively or totally blameless. Instead of feelings of vague guilt, lament give us form and language to bring our case directly before God. From the sublime to the horrific, the Psalms illustrate that we can and should respond to all our lived experience before God in worship.