Understanding Corporate Lament

Psalm 77

1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. 3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. 4 You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. 5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: 7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” 13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 16 The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. 17 The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. 18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. 19 Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

“…One reason why people are uncomfortable with tears and suffering is that it is a blasphemous assault on their precariously maintained American spirituality of the pursuit of happiness. They want to avoid evidence that things are not right with the world as it is  – without Jesus, without love, without faith…It is a lot easier to keep the American faith if they don’t have to look into the face of suffering so learning the language of lament is not only necessary to restore Christian dignity to suffering and repentance, and death; it is necessary to provide a Christian witness to a world that has no language for, and is therefore oblivious to, the glories of the wilderness and the cross.”

-Eugene Peterson


Is a prayer expressing sorrow, pain, or confusion; a loud cry or howl; a passionate expression of grief.

Elements of Lament

  • – turn TO God – to talk and to pray
  • – expresshonestly what is being felt and experienced
  • A – ask the tough questions that you encounter, even if they’re Accusations!
  • – remember and/or Return to who God really is and what He has done. Turn to the scriptures!

Psalm 77:7-10 (The Message)

Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will he never smile again? Is his love worn threadbare? Has his salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten his manners? Has he angrily stomped off and left us? “Just my luck,” I said. “The High God retires just the moment I need him.”

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