lament is good

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

James 4:8b-10

Lament is found all over Scripture, and prominent in some places, an entire book named Lamentations. We think of the Psalms as songs of praise, but lament is found over and over again in them.

We naturally would like to avoid it, wanting instead to feel good, relax and enjoy, smile inside and out, and lift up our voices and hearts in praise to God. And that’s all good in its place. But we live in a world in which this a luxury for many. Yes, the humble poor can find their joy in God, but it doesn’t lessen the reality they face and live in day after day. We need to weep with those who weep, to pray and help in some substantial way.

And then there’s our own circumstances and lives. We can’t undo the past, and we can’t get rid of present obligations and concerns. All of this can weigh so heavily on us. Often a proper response is lament. To call out to God in our weariness and suffering. Certainly to repent of our sins. Remembering the promise of Jesus:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4