If I say the word lament, many persons today may raise their eyebrows and wonder what book I am reading from another era. The word lament is not a common one in our modern vocabulary, but perhaps it should be.
Aubrey Sampson introduces the reader to a greater understanding of lament in her latest book, The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament that will be released on February 5. Page by page Aubrey shares her own journey with lament and how it serves to help us as we grieve whether that loss is a death or a change in our health or any other challenge we would not have chosen for ourselves.
There are many books on grief, but too often we still struggle with knowing how to deal with it, push it aside, or conquer it. Those around us as well as some books remind us of truths that are solid, but leave us wanting. Perhaps that is because we try to contain it because it can feel consuming.
Aubrey’s observation is this:
“…grief won’t be contained. Grief won’t stay hidden. Grief explodes.”
Saints of old knew the value and benefit of lament.
So what is it and why is it important?
“Lament, a crying out of the soul, creates a pathway between the Already and the Not Yet. Lament minds the gap between current hopelessness and coming hope. Lament anticipates new creation but also acknowledges the painful reality of now. Lament helps us hold on to God’s goodness while battling evil’s evil at the same time.
Lament is an overlooked genre of prayer found throughout Scripture. There are actually more lament songs than praise songs in the Bible.”
What brings the powerful truths about lament home is Aubrey’s candor about her own struggle with a debilitating illness, death of a close friend, and how these and other challenges turn everything of the life she once knew upside down.
Aubrey grapples vulnerably with her own lament while opening our understanding to its value and gift to us in the midst of our own suffering and loss. She is not naïve about all the things we wish we could do to avoid suffering and make it disappear. In the end she discovers this:
“Suffering is an invitation to stop pretending.
Suffering is an invitation to stop avoiding.
Suffering is an invitation to let go of control.
Suffering is an invitation to pour out our hearts.
Suffering is an invitation to lament to God.
…lament is actually a godly concept, a spiritual discipline, and a powerful handhold in our seasons of sorrow. God has given us the biblical language and practice of lament as a way to express our pain and survive our suffering.”
Our challenge is whether or not we will accept God’s invitation and trust Him with our deepest pain, our deepest questions, and our inexplicable questions about Him.
Why should we do it?
Why risk feeling unraveled to lament?
“If we never acknowledge our pain to God, we will never truly know what it means to praise him on the other side of suffering. It is in our honest crying out to God about our pain that our worship of God becomes more authentic. It is in this kind of relationship, this kind of honesty with God, that our walks with him become real. Lament is part of the rhythm of a deepening relationship with him.”
If Aubrey’s words quoted here have stirred your heart to learn more about lament, be aware these are but samples of what treasures she offers up to the reader. The book also includes two helpful appendices and a study guide.
“Lament helps us to listen for God’s louder song and to believe that one day we will hear it above the noise of our pain.”
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.