The Holiness of Lament

Is lament holy?

Is it spiritual? Is it pleasing to God? Is lament good?


Lament makes us in Western society a bit uncomfortable. Lament makes us squirm in our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, keep-calm-and-carry-on social structure.

For us, grief is private. Grief is personal.

But then events happen which can only be responded to with lament, with grief beyond grief. And we cry out for understanding. We cry out for sense and order to be restored. We cry out, "God where were you?"

We cry out for the world to be as it should be and not as it is.

It is this crying out which makes lament holy.

This is where we find the bit of heaven imprinted in our hearts, a bit of things as they should be and not as they are. This is where we find the longing and the need for the fulfillment of kingdom coming. This is where we find Emmanuel, God with us, pressing deep into our hurt. This is where our pain collides with the immense grace and mercy of God.

We ask why.

And God responds I am here.

We ask how could it be.

And God says I am with you.

We ask where were you God.

And God says you are my beloved.

He is Emmanuel in our pain, in our longing, in our waiting, in our suffering, in our barrenness, in our lament.

He is the parent comforting the grief-stricken child, "I can't tell you why, my darling, but I will sit with you and hold you as you cry. I will stroke your hair and kiss your forehead and remind you I am here, my darling, and that I love you, my darling."


We lament because our spirits must cry out for the world as it should be, as it was created to be.

But God is not offended by our lament.

The Emmanuel God, he receives our lament and joins it to his own.

Together we cry out our lament and find his abiding presence, his abiding love, receiving and restoring.