Is lament appropriate for Christians today?

(Jay Johnson) #21

Lamentations 3 is one of my favorite chapters. As the NIV footnote says, “This chapter is an acrostic poem; the verses of each stanza begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the verses within each stanza begin with the same letter.” The NET Bible translation makes that clearer in English:

א ( Alef )

1 I am the man who has experienced affliction
from the rod of his wrath.
2 He drove me into captivity and made me walk
in darkness and not light.
3 He repeatedly attacks me,
he turns his hand against me all day long.

Recall that Jeremiah wrote the poem as the people were taken into exile in Babylon. Naturally, the prophet is bitter, but as Shawn says, there is still hope, and even in the midst of despair, Jeremiah writes the words that will inspire one of my favorite hymns, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

ו ( Vav )

16 He ground my teeth in gravel;
he trampled me in the dust.
17 I am deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is.
18 So I said, “My endurance has expired;
I have lost all hope of deliverance from the Lord.”

ז ( Zayin )

19 Remember my impoverished and homeless condition,
which is a bitter poison.
20 I continually think about this,
and I am depressed.
21 But this I call to mind;
therefore I have hope:

ח ( Khet )

22 The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases;
his compassions never end.
23 They are fresh every morning;
your faithfulness is abundant!
24 “My portion is the Lord,” I have said to myself,
so I will put my hope in him.


“Is lament appropriate for Christians today?”

Judging from the number of articles about lamenting in a Christian context I’d think it’s widely considered a thing of the present.

(Randy) #23

I wonder if we would agree that we do well to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. That is what Emmanuel did with us, and you are tres sympathique.

(Randy) #24

It does seem a lot of lament is a longing for justice. African Americans and other oppressed peoples resonate with it; Randal Rauser mentioned that that is the reason for Heaven in many folks’ minds. I just listened to a Rachel Held Evans Audible of “Inspired,” where an African American pastor said that if we have resurrection only in our minds, it’s not much help to his people.

(Jay Johnson) #25

Lamentations 3 is like the “greatest hits” of prophetic complaint. All the themes are there: confession of sin, call for repentance, and, yes, the righteous sufferer who trusts in the Lord and cries out to him for justice:

ל ( Lamed )

34 To crush underfoot
all the earth’s prisoners,
35 to deprive a person of his rights
in the presence of the Most High,
36 to defraud a person in a lawsuit—
the Lord does not approve of such things!


To me, lament gives voice to grief,while despair is grief left unexpressed through faith.

So I’d say lament is not only appropriate but vital to our spiritual health as Christians.

(Shawn T Murphy) #27

Yes, @Argon many Christians today cannot see the New Covenant. The people who lived in the OT times had no hope of Heaven. When they died, they were dead and this is why there is a book of Lamentations. They had promised a Messiah that would change this, but He had not come yet, this is way they legitimately complained about. Even though the Messiah stood before His disciples, they could not comprehend how Jesus had changed everything.

It is okay to grieve, but we must rejoice that our loved ones are not dead, as they were in the OT. This is Jesus’ message, and not just in John 16:20.


This is running close to the “no true Scotsman” response. One should consider it possible that many have a different interpretation of what it is ‘to lament’. That it’s not so much an issue about the New Covenant but how to use a verb.: Elevating a semantic quibble to a theological heresy.

Aside: I’m not following the logic that the dead were dead in the Old Testament but are alive now. As you noted, the prophecy was that the Messiah would change this. So, for someone who believed that, their problem was that someone they loved hadn’t been returned to life between the time of their death until the Messiah’s appearance?

(Shawn T Murphy) #29

Before Jesus conquered Death (Satan) the old covenant existed on earth. Earth belonged 100% to Satan, including each soul. Upon death, each soul returned to his realm, Hell. He also had a free hand to possess anyone he wanted to. The many demon possessions in the NT shown this. The Jesu said “It is Done,” He declared His victory over Death, and descended into Hell to pass final judgement over Satan. The New Covenant took much away from Satan and opened the gates to Heaven, so that each person who dies can go into the the Kingdom of God for the first time.


is that in the Old Testament? Back in college I took a course in Jewish history from a Rabbi. I’m sure he didn’t mention that.

(Shawn T Murphy) #31

It is there the the OT for the enlightened reader to find. The Jews had lost the original teachings of Yahweh and went astray. They were led astray the god of the dead (Make 12:27) and the king of this world (John 18:36). So the answer is clearer in the NT when Jesus speaks about these topics. Like “Let the dead bury the dead.”


OK. I’m not trying to be confrontational or dismissive but given what I know and how I understand Jews and other Christians have processed the Old Testament, I’m going to walk away from this conversation with the idea that this is a somewhat idiosyncratic interpretation not widely shared by Christians or even a majority of Christian theologians.

To anyone else following this conversation: Is my opinion off based? Is Shawn’s interpretation widely held?

(Christy Hemphill) #33

No, Shawn belongs to an obscure Swiss cult based on the teachings of a medium named Beatrice Brunner.


Well, I just know that Jewish concepts of the soul changed markedly over time, probably with the influence of other cultures (particularly Greek). One can’t read the just OT to understanding of Jewish thought and theology. For that, there are other collections like the Talmud.

(system) closed #35

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