“God is Calling Us to Lament”

by | Apr 11, 2020 | Notes from the Executive Director

We are honored to welcome Rev. Rich Visser, College and Young Adult Director at Alive Ministries to share his thoughts on lament on the blog today!


Just about everyone these days is grieving some sort of loss right now. COVID-19 has forced all of us to change our daily routines. Many are worried about their health or the health of loved ones. Some have lost their jobs or had their hours cut back, leading us to worry about how we are going to make it through this next month. Even something as simple as a trip to the grocery store can feel scary right now.


There seems to be a lot of advice on how to deal with the losses we are going through right now. Read the Bible and pray. Think positive. Follow a daily schedule. Reach out to people you love. Doing these things can help, but I believe God is calling us to do something else right now, which is to lament.


A lament is a heartfelt prayer to God where we tell Him exactly what we are going through and trust that hears us. A lament does not make our suffering go away, but instead helps us to know that God grieves with us, he hears us.


Today is known to many Christians around the world as Holy Saturday. It’s the day after Good Friday (where Jesus died on the cross) and the day before Easter (where we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead).


As Jesus died on the cross, he prays one of the most shocking and heartfelt prayers of lament you could imagine. He prays, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This prayer of lament comes from Psalm 22 in the Old Testament.


You could spend a lifetime thinking about the full meaning of Jesus’ prayer, but one thing is for sure: Jesus’ prayer of lament is brutally honest about how he is feeling. Jesus cries out to God that his beloved Father feels incredibly distant. Jesus feels alone and abandoned on the cross.


One thing that would help all of us is to be honest with God about how we are feeling right now. Many of us feel uncertain about the future and alone in our suffering right now. Tell God how you feel and know that he can handle it.


Ultimately, a prayer of lament helps us to grow in faith and to trust in God more and more. Almost all of the lament Psalms end with a promise to trust in God and to worship him. Praying a prayer of lament can lead us to a place where we can once again praise God.


Take a look at how the Psalm Jesus prayed on the cross—Psalm 22—ends:


“29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness,

declaring to a people yet unborn:

He has done it!”


The time will come when all of the uncertainty and hardship related to COVID-19 comes to an end. A time when we can go to the grocery store without worry. A time when the hospitals are no longer filled to capacity. A time when the kids are able to go back to school. What a wonderful day that will be!


For now, God is calling us to lament. To tell him what we are going through knowing that he can handle it and that he is with us in our grief. If you aren’t sure how to pray a prayer of lament, the book of Psalms has you covered. Some 40% of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. Psalms 6, 13, 22, 77 and 142 are some good examples if you are looking for a place to start.


Finally, if you need someone to talk to during this time or to pray for you, send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I would be honored to listen to you and to help you lament.