Lament is not the only way we should pray, and it should not be our only topic of conversation. But God may use our practice of this holy conversation to show others that their pain is not wasted. He may use this to communicate his saving love to our neighbors.
Lament is a healthy, normal, and helpful practice for our churches to embrace. God might even use it to draw in those who don’t yet believe.
No one would confuse lament for one of the 4 Spiritual Laws. And yet, lament seems like an especially useful way to connect with unbelievers in the modern world.
Some might protest that lament is not attractive to those outside the church, that a lamenting church might drive people away by focusing too much on sorrow. (I probably would have reacted the same way two years ago.) However, this objection misunderstands both lament what God in Christ promises his followers.
For a person or church growing in this area, lament can be a useful evangelistic tool. In what follows I’ll defend this claim and explain how it might look within a friendly conversation.
Why Lament is Attractive
Lament is an honest reckoning with the sin and suffering in the world. There are no painted-on smiles or sugar-thin promises of the life you’ve always wanted. Lament is a raw grieving before the Lord and a hopeful turning to trust him in the middle of that grief.
Most people feel the deep pains of life but don’t have anywhere to take that pain. Some might vent to friends or talk with a therapist, but many keep their hurt inside. We humans aren’t very good at processing our sorrow.
Along with pain, our unbelieving friends and neighbors may feel great confusion. If they do not acknowledge a God who is sovereign, then who or what is behind their suffering? If they do not acknowledge a God who is loving, then how can they escape the pain?