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What Does It Mean to Lament?
By Rick Warren

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 (NLT)

Lament is not a word that we use much today—but it’s a practice that is essential to your emotional and spiritual health.

What is lament? A lament is a passionate expression of grief to God. You cry out to God. You may even shout to God. You may weep. You may yell. Lament is an act of worship that can include arguing with God and complaining to him.

“Wait a minute,” you’re probably thinking. Complaining to God can be an act of worship? That’s right: When you complain about God, that’s an act of rebellion. But when you complain to God, that’s an act of worship. 

You can complain to God all you want. God can handle it! He can handle your rage and resentment and regrets and accusations—because he already knows it all. He just wants you to get it off your chest. He wants you to admit it or confess it to him.

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:13-14 NLT).

God isn’t afraid of negative emotions. We are, but God isn’t. He wants you to let it all out in lament because he knows that life is not all sunshine and roses. Life can be rough. That’s why the Bible says there is a time to rejoice, but there is also a time to weep. That’s why the Bible is full of lament.

In fact, there’s an entire book of lament in the Bible called Lamentations, where Jeremiah complains to God that he got it all wrong. Jeremiah was grieving the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and God let him have his say. 

Most people think the book of Psalms is all about thanksgiving and praise. But there are 150 psalms in the Bible, and 65 of them are psalms of lament. Every human emotion is expressed in the book of Psalms.

If God leads you to lament and you don’t know how to start, just go to Psalms. As you read, underline every verse that you identify with and every verse that encourages you. Say these verses back to God, whether they’re psalms of praise or psalms that cry out to God in pain.

Your prayers of praise and lament are worship—and God hears every one of them.

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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