Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy

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A short book mostly destined to those know deep grief in their lives. A lament is a prayer, a statement of fait, then honnest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of goodness.
It's not only about understanding oneself, but others too.
Celebration is fine, but without lament, life is incomplete.

Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

a broken neck ambushed my life and left me a quadriplegic.
My paralysis was permanent, and inside, I died.
Problems don’t always get solved. Conflicts don’t get fixed. Children die, couples divorce.
That’s how I felt. But after weeks in bed, I got tired of being depressed "if I can’t die, please show me how to live".

he book of Lamentations:
I am the man who has seen affliction . . .
surely against me turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.

I was amazed to learn that God welcomes our laments.
When we are in pain, God feels the sting in his chest.

Introduction - Life in a Minor Key - A Personal Journey

“Please not this!” It was 2004, and my wife, Sarah, awakened me, concerned that something was wrong with her pregnancy.
The doctor pointed to the screen. “I’m so sorry,” he said, “but the heart’s not beating.”
Our baby, only a few days from entering our lives, had died.

Discovering Lament

Following Sylvia’s death with desperate candor. I fought the temptation to be angry. The Bible gave voice to my pain. Particular psalms became my own.
I discovered a minor-key language for my suffering: lament.
I can see how lament became my guide, my teacher, and my solace. Lament helped us navigate the wilderness of our grief.

Uncomfortable with Lament

some people reacted with visible discomfort. Others quickly moved to a desperate desire to “find the bright side,” a quick change of the subject, an awkward silence, or even physically excusing themselves to escape the tension.

Every person meant well. I appreciated their attempts to address our pain. But it became clear that most people did not know how to join us in our grief.
Lament was just not familiar terrain.

Lament as Grace

It expressed my heart and served as a path for my grief. It kept my soul out of the ditches of despair and denial. I memorized the words. It became a help to my soul and to others in pain.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

While I have nothing against celebration and pointing people toward hope, the depth of my grief caused me to long for the honest and candid spiritual struggle with pain.
Celebration is certainly not wrong, but with a consistent absence of lament, it felt incomplete.

Deep Mercy in Dark Clouds

Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God. Without lament we won’t know how to process pain. Silence, bitterness, and even anger can dominate our spiritual lives instead. Without lament we won’t know how to help people walking through sorrow. Instead, we’ll offer trite solutions, unhelpful comments, or impatient responses. What’s more, without this sacred song of sorrow, we’ll miss the lessons historic laments are intended to teach us.

A Journey in Lament

In part 1, I’ll try to help you learn to lament.
In part 2, I hope to show you what we learn from lament.
in part 3, we’ll explore how to live with lament.

Part 1 - LEARNING TO LAMENT - Psalms of Lament

1 - Keep Turning to Prayer

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan.

Who taught you to cry? The answer, of course, is “no one.”
Life begins with tears. It’s simply a part of what it means to be human.
But lament is different.
every lament is a prayer. A statement of faith. Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness.

To Lament Is Christian