A Jesus & Justice Shaped Blog from Rev’d Jon Swales & Friends
Dec 6, 2023
2 min read
Lament is a gift for a church tempted to deny reality, residing in a world of romanticized, spiritualized abstraction. The language of lament is an ally of justice, articulating and giving voice to the cries of pain, suffering, and injustice. It is also a friend of spiritual intimacy, calling us to be honest with God.
The absence of lament—this invaluable gift embedded in scripture, church history, and the profound witness of the God-Man Jesus—hampers the church in fulfilling its calling to be a justice-shaped, pastorally sensitive community that takes reality with utter seriousness.
In the Book of Psalms, a rich collection of poems and songs crafted for both communal and individual worship, worshippers are continually beckoned—especially through honest and profound lament—to enter into a deep, real, and intimate dialogue with the divine. This communication of lament skillfully articulates the harsh reality of suffering and the accompanying emotional turmoil.
Notably, one in every three Psalms takes root in a realm of pain, where life loses its bearings, and orientation gives way to a challenging space. Here, faith is tested, questions emerge, and a pervasive sense of disorientation takes hold. For contemporary worshippers, these Psalms offer an honest and intimate bridge of solidarity to those navigating disorientation; lament allows the pain to rise and gives voice to disorientation, providing a path toward healing and reorientation.
These laments also offer a liturgical reminder to those in stable, oriented, and coherent life situations that diverse experiences exist. These Psalms, as a gift, bestow a language that molds and equips individuals for the inevitable moments when they, too, may traverse the darkest valleys.
Ultimately, the Psalms of lament convey a powerful message: it's perfectly acceptable not to be okay, and the prayers of the faithful are, at times, honest and profound cries of lamentation.