Processing Through Life’s Hardships with Lament

January 18, 2022
3 min read
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Julie MacDonald, Counselor at Fieldstone Counseling

Why would God let this happen? Will I ever recover from this? When will this pain end?  Perhaps you feel the frustration of daily life and the reality of life in a fallen world.  What can we do with our sorrows, frustrations, and regret?  In the Psalms we see the example of lamenting. Lament expresses sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something.

I have found this exercise to be helpful in processing through loss, disappointment, and anger with counselees.  We can bring our questions to God and trust him in the midst of them.

The following is an example of a lament Psalm.  The example and descriptions of the Psalm are from W. David O. Taylor’s book, Open and Unafraid:  The Psalms as a Guide to Life (p.70-71).  

Psalm 13

A Complaint (vv.1-2)

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul,

and have sorrow in my heart all day long?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

A Petition (vv.3-4)

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;

my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

A Resolution (vv.5-6)

But I 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.

Complaints may be about God, about one’s life, or about a presumed enemy.

Petitions range widely and can include requests for healing, deliverance, vindication, provision, and protection as well as in cases of confession of sin, forgiveness.

Resolution may involve a confession of trust, a resolve to praise, a promise to obey, or a confident affirmation of God’s own faithfulness.

When you are ready, you can write your own lament Psalm following the pattern above.  The beauty of the Psalms is that they show us that it is good to voice our cares and concerns to the God who hears us.  Feel freedom to share your heart in your Psalm and seek the Lord in prayer. Brad Hambrick notes in his “Post-Traumatic Seminar” videos that there is no hurry or timeline in recovery.  Hambrick explained, “sooner is not better, ready is better” to process through hard emotions.

The practice of lament allows us to bring difficult thoughts and feelings, as well as our waiting or heartaches, to God and trust him for healing.

For further reflection continue reading the following lament Psalms: 5, 11, 35, 40, 54, 69, 79, 83, 109, 137, 143.

Julie MacDonald is a counselor with Fieldstone Counseling. Julie has a heart for encouraging others in times of hardship with the hope and help found in Christ

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