A lament is a song or poem expressing intense sorrow or grief. The Creator has given us lamenting as a tool to express deep personal sorrow and grief. Laments can be found in poetry, writings, and in various books of the Bible (i.e. Psalms, Lamentations, and Jeremiah). When we lament, we pour out our complaints to God in an attempt to persuade action on our behalf, all the while stating our trust. Laments can have seven parts:
- Address to God (“O God”)
- Review of God’s faithfulness in the past
- A complaint
- A confession of sin or claim of innocence
- A request for help
- God’s response (not often stated)
- A vow to praise, statement of trust in God
Trauma Healing Institute. Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help.
Not all seven parts are present in a Lament, but COMPLAINT will always be apart of lamenting. Laments allow a person or group to really express their grief to God. God can handle being accused! We do not have to approach lamenting in trepidation. Complaints are often, but not always, followed by a statement of trust in God. Laments create powerful writings because they are cries that come from the heart. They are cries from a place of purity and honesty. You are speaking the truth about how you really feel and even the things you question. In a lament, there are no problems to solve, only crying out for intervention and justice. They are a good way to express deep emotions.
The example of a Lament from the Psalms:
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
What parts of lamenting can you find in the Psalms 13.
The following poem was composed as a group lament by five women of the
My God, listen to our prayer.
Don’t hide when we need you. I’m confused and tired. We only need you, Lord.
My God listen to our prayer.
When bad people talk bad about us, they spit on our backs.
If we had wings, we would fly to a better place.
My God, listen to our prayer.
God, make them talk nonsense. Make them go mad. Because they have done bad to
God, listen to our prayer
What parts of lamenting can be found in this poem?
Lets take the time to write a personal lament and share them with each other.
This space was created for us to freely share the cries of our heart. We are hear to show empathy and bear witness with one another.
Write a lament about the non-essential items you miss right now. Remember that all Laments contain a complaint. Maybe its a lament about needing to go the hairdresser or chipped nails. Make a list of non-essentials you are lamenting. It is perfectly fine to lament about the non-essentials that are apart of our life or routines. Lamenting those things will make the heart lighter.
A Letter of Lament to America written by Denise Harrington
Dear America (United States of America)My heart feels for you…you have seen so much, given so much and birthed so many. As a young girl I marveled at your beauty, at least what I could see in my then small town, Washington, DC. As I became a woman and traveled to many states, I saw your richness in landscape…Utah Red Mountains, mighty Pacific Ocean, Redwood forests and midland lakes…lake Michigan. The mountains of Denver, West Virginia, Mount Hood, Rainier, Big Sur, and of course, Mount Shasta. Of course, these are all west of the Mississippi. But there are also the cities of the east coast the Atlantic Ocean and it’s Delaware beaches. Niagara Falls and the cities of the coast; NY, Philadelphia, DC and Boston. I have to admit the western part of America is so beautiful! Whistler Mountain although in Canada reminds me of the Majesty of the West. Warmth of the beaches in Florida and the United States Caribbean territories … San Juan. Thank you for your beauty. You are also rich in diversity of people who came here from many countries and brought the diversity of cultures. In this my heart also bleeds with yours over the injustices, racism, fascism and other ways of hate…gun violence and the senseless meanness of the government we live under now. You or maybe it was me …had so much promise. Now at every turn there seems to be no love from or for those who inhabit you…sometimes it feels hopeless others times I know that you are an evolving being looking to bring us home to your love the love I have seen as I have meet new friends and family in each of these states and parts of the country.
I pray for you America…today’s climate of fear, lack, and bankrupted leadership which does not want to honor others is such a sad situation. To rip you from the global family and to deny our connectedness to the world is so sad…I am angry but not at you…all though I know in your strength you are not a victim. You have allowed all of this along with all the beauty that you are as a way to heal, include, enrich. I know this is true, I just don’t know when or if it will be in my lifetime that America will see, and its people support the diversity that is your makeup. Yet I pray for you and your citizens, I meditate for balance for you and your citizen, I dive deep into the silence of my Being to bring out that peace, so it is palpable. I declare that I will rise up and voice that declaration for others…so you can rise up too. I wish for you and hope for you and love for you and love you…because good and bad you are my country of origin; I am here born from you. With all the that is happening now some of which I never thought would happen, things that are inconceivable…the evil of men who care not.
I call on all the Beings of light and Archangel Michael’s legions of Angels to bring you great love and support. I know that you…American with the strength of the feminine energy, Divine energy…will rise up transform, enrich and love us back to center, balance, alignment. I stand witness and I act from my space of love and support of you.
Dearest God BLESS AMERICA! And ALL of her people, from sea to shining sea!
What elements of lament can you find in the letter to America?
Write a letter of lament to whomever you would like. Remember that Lamenting requires having the element of complaint.
A Song of Lament
Lament singing is a very old, traditional way to express how you are feeling. When you feel pain, hurt, or want to express how you are feeling, you can get it out through song. The modern term for lamenting through song is music therapy. Music therapy provides a chance to process emotions through song. It has been shown to have many mental health benefits. The original purpose of lamenting in song, was rooted in crying out to the Divine to express pain and longing, hoping to move the heart of God. Below is a song of lament by Victor Nelson.
Write a personal song of lament. What emotions did it stir within?