5 Reasons to Study Lamentations

Recovering the language of lament

By Mark Vroegop, Guest Contributor 

Memorials matter. 

Consider the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan, or the National Center for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. They are designed to help people remember, to mourn, and to learn. Memorials honor history and send a message. 

The book of Lamentations is a memorial, and you should study this historic book. 

A few years ago, our church spent five weeks studying Lamentations. Some were nervous about how our church would respond to over a month of such a dark book. But it proved to be one of the most fruitful seasons in the last 10 years. Lamentations changed our worship, affected our prayers, and gave us a new language in suffering. 

There are many reasons why you should study through this book. Allow me to give you five.

Lamentations is the longest lament in the Bible.

1. Lamentations is the longest lament in the Bible.

Lament is a language the Church desperately needs to recover. Simply defined, “lament” is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. It involves turning to God, laying out what’s wrong (complaint), asking God for help, and choosing to trust.  

Lament is a language the Church desperately needs to recover. 

Over a third of the Psalms are minor-key prayers that give voice to processing the pain of life. And yet, most Christians aren’t familiar with this biblical prayer language. Our congregational singing and our prayers are lament-lite. 

The book of Lamentations demonstrates the purpose and power of lament. It not only serves as a memorial to the destruction of Jerusalem, but it also shows us how to pray when the dark clouds of suffering roll in. When you study Lamentations, hurting people come out of the woodwork. 

Lamentations displays the severity of sin and the holiness of God.

2. Lamentations displays the severity of sin and the holiness of God.

The book is a poetic memorial—a recounting and a warning. It rehearses the suffering and the grief connected to the sacking of the City of David, and it cautions us about what happens when human rebellion reaches a “red line.” 

Lamentations is a deeply theological book. It identifies the depravity of God’s people as the cause of divine judgment. It elevates the right of a holy God to discipline His people—even using a pagan nation as His instrument. The book is shocking. It is sobering. And by preaching through Lamentations, people are reminded that sin is serious, and God is holy. 

Lamentations gives the Church a voice in suffering.

3. Lamentations gives the Church a voice in suffering.

The brokenness of sin has infected every aspect of our humanity. Creation still groans, and Lamentations provides a model for how God’s people can process moments when our collective depravity produces terrible fruits. 

Jeremiah was a faithful prophet. He warned the people about coming judgment. And when the brokenness of humanity was on full display, lament was an appropriate response. It’s the voice of sorrow as we live between the effects of our rebellion and future restoration. Lamentations shows us how to pray when human depravity has created societal suffering. It helps us know how to live between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty. 

Lamentations provides hope.

4. Lamentations provides hope.

The third chapter contains the most well-known passages. We love reading that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22). But understanding the totality of the book of Lamentations deepens our understanding of where to find hope in hardship. 

Lamentations shows us the connection between the rehearsing of truth and the resurgence of hope. 

It’s important to remember that Jeremiah proclaims the never-ending, morning-ready mercies of the Lord over a destroyed city. Jerusalem looked like a wasteland and a war zone. The destruction raised the question, “How did this happen?” While those questions linger and the suffering continues, Jeremiah pronounces (“this I call to mind,” 3:21) what he knows to be true about God despite what he sees. Lamentations shows us the connection between the rehearsing of truth and the resurgence of hope. 

Lamentations doesn’t end with resolution.

5. Lamentations doesn’t end with resolution.

The book reaches its apex in chapter three. The remaining two chapters return to the reality of the suffering. There is no “happily-ever-after” and the book ends without resolution. Questions remain. Tears are still flowing. But in order to know the rest of the story, you have to look elsewhere in the Bible. 

The end of Lamentations reflects the path of hardship. We believe while still in the dark. Lament leads us through sorrow to trust—even though we can’t see the future. So, in a way, the uncertain nature at the end of Lamentations is refreshing. It shows us how to trust when the immediate future remains uncertain and hard. 

Do you see why Lamentations is important? Too many people fly by this book in their reading. Too many pastors avoid it because of its heaviness. But it’s in the Bible for a reason. 

Lamentations is a memorial. It matters. It’s a powerful lament. And you should study it carefully.   

This article is an adaptation of a blog post first published at 9Marks.org.

Want to study Lamentations with BSF? Join our Jeremiah & Lamentations Mini-Study! Click here to learn more. 

Mark Vroegop

Mark Vroegop is the lead pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis and the author of three books, including Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament. He’s married to Sarah, and they have three married sons and a daughter. 

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132 Comments

  1. Thank you Marc. I have been studied the book of Lamentation . Thinking about what l has been suffering, I noticed that The Holy Spirit had led me to stay in confident in Jésus. I want to encourage all fellow Christians that if you can remain trusting and praising in your Heart our Lord in sufferings, all the more so if you are not suffering After . Great Hope in our life

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  2. I have the privilege to be a B.S.F. Group Leader this year. I am glad to have studied Lamentations.

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  3. Thank you Mark for this sharing… I have had several seasons of lamenting during my walk of faith, especially over the collective sin that kills the body and the spirit.
    Your reflections spoke to me. I now live in Warner Robins, GA but grew up lived out my career in Indianapolis. Blessings to you and yours…

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  4. I am so grateful for this study; I see God’s character and my own clearer. I am so glad that God allows lamenting; it is truly therapeutic!

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  5. Oh my gosh, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to my heart continuously, while I studied this book. I found myself wailing at the tribulations that family, friends and people around the world are going through. However, I found hope in our God, whose mercies are unlimited. I love that God uses his judgment to bring us to humility, and turn back to him. When you mentioned all those memorials, my heart mourned for those lost. When Jeremiah speaks of famine, pictures of the Holocaust victims came to mind, standing at the fences waiting to be freed. However, God always provides hope of freedom and restoration. God spoke to me through your words. You blessed my soul.

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  6. Thank you for this commentary, it is so very helpful to remember how merciful our God is and that his love never fails. But he cannot tolerate sin that separates us from himself, so he has to take steps to destroy that sin at its very roots.. That’s real love. Also, that we are allowed to express ourselves to this loving God in a personal and emotional way.

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  7. I thank you for your emphasis on the significance of lamentation in our modern Christ-centered lives. One week before the scheduled BSF study of Lamentations, in a conversation with a good Christian friend, it dawned on us that we have not heard of LAMENT in the various churches we have attended over the last 50 years. We get preached at to forgive the people who have wronged us, love everybody, and go on. Our US church culture does not acknowledge the deep wounds we may have suffered, the resulting pain and maybe loss, the disorientation and confusion that deep wounds cause, the resulting passions that may arise in us (anger, condemnation, revenge, murder) nor does the church acknowledge the time that it takes to recover from a deep wound.
    Forgive and forget has not worked for me. I will make a study LAMENTATION for my own wellbeing and the wellbeing of people around me.
    I thank God that He is there for us while we are in a world of hurt and disorientation and cannot make sense of what has happened to our well-planned, well-intentioned lives.
    I also thank you for your efforts to make LAMENTATION known to us. God bless you.

    I myself will have to study the matter of lamentation so that

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    • Thank you so much for enlightening me.
      The word Lament never heard it in church. Starting to read Lamentations now.

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      • Am greatful this very inspiring looking forward

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  8. Helpful insights. Looking forward to the study of Lamentations

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  9. This is so important in my life right now. I am a very emotional person and have been struggling to process some deep seeded trams from my childhood, my husbands death from cancer at 57, my 11 years of widowhood and disappointments with people I have shared my home with. I have given to them generously and then they have shown little appreciation .
    I have invested our life savings in the market and am now on a tight budget when there was plenty saved to live very comfortably. My twin sister is dying from colon cancer that could have been prevented had she received in person care and good doctors but was not due to Covid.
    I know that suffering is an important part of the Christian life and that we are to enjoy suffering with identification to and with Christ! But what about the emotions that surface unexpectedly. What about the reactions in anger and criticism that break out because of their deep rooted pain?
    I am looking to this to help me process and express these feelings to Gods glory and in His ways!
    Our culture teaches us to buck up and get over it! But ignores the need to face and deal with it! Then you wonder what’s wrong with me. I can’t and you hit the wall and slither down!
    Thank you for pointing out that God HAS provided the answers for me and all His people!

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  10. Yes please sign me up.

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    • Hi Kathie, I’ve sent you an email directly. Thanks!

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  11. Very fulfilling to me , encouraging , inspiring . Bible study gives me so much strength from day to day. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Thank you and bless you in the name of Jesus!! Studying the Divided kingdom has been like being in Psychotherapy. The more I learn about my creator God, the more I learn about myself. I now look forward to studying Lamentations and the healing it will bring to my mind and emotions. Suffering is a part of life, and we should not think of it as a strange thing happening to us. Our God is an Awesome God.

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  13. Jeremiah gives us hope that even in troubled times that God is always with us. I have lived for 23 years with health issues. I know that even if things could be worse, there is God’s promise of brighter future. 🕊😇

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  14. We should get back to weeping for our family and friends who are still outside of Christ. Also lost souls whom we see every day . Also our nation who has turned away from God and His word .and given into idols

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  15. I am a “lamenter” through and through. When I lament I come broken and leave feeling a sense of freedom. The Lord hears me and carries me through. I am so grateful to be doing this study….thank you BSF for providing it.

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  16. Thank you, Mark Vroegop, for your book, “Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament,” which I discovered a few months after my husband died. It was very helpful, and I’ve recommended it to others.

    I am studying the current BSF “Kingdom Divided” in a wonderful Zoom group. With this study I am brand new to BSF, but I knew that such an in-depth study of God’s Word would help me through this season of grief. I see that the next 3 lessons of “Kingdom Divided” will be covering Jeremiah and Lamentations. Is this mini-study of Lamentations & Jeremiah different than the 3 lessons coming up in “Kingdom Divided”?? Just curious if I should pursue it, or if it will be available after we’re done with “Kingdom Divided”.

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    • Dear Martha – if you are in a BSF class then you will do the mini study with your group! This mini study is just three weeks of the BSF study where you can invite a friend to try BSF with you

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  17. I signed up to study Lamentations, I can’t find the lectures for this 3 week study. Where should I look?

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  18. What a wonderful study, to learn more about my fathet

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  19. Thank you for the brief easy understanding words about Lament and book of Lamentation. I will read it carefully this time.

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  20. Have never studied the book before however your insights are an eye opener.
    Eagerly waiting for the study.

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  21. This is great encouragement. You inspire me to study, Lamentations. Its true its not studied or preached on much.

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  22. Just checking this out

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  23. Lamentations givescourage and hope .to endure in our suffering. It helps us to be sober too.

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  24. Thank you for the study for Lamenation. God word is awesome. I’m so in love with BSF.❤️ Thank you 😊

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  25. Reading God’s Word and seeing myself reflected back is at times amazing and other times heart wrenching. I am so grateful that our Father, who is just, sees fit to be a merciful, forgiving, restorative Father. Of which, without Jesus, I am most definitely unworthy of receiving.
    Wonderful blog. Very informative.

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  26. Thank you for this insightful message about Lamentations. I will read and study it in a new way!

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  27. I have found in my life, the more I loved the person I lost, the greater the lament. In a four year period, from 1989-1992, I lost 5 major people in my life. In 2012, I lost my husband. I found Jeremiah, the weeping prophet to be a comfort. David’s psalms and Jesus weeping not only a comfort but learned to trust God more.

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  28. Thank you for your thought-provoking message. I am looking forward to studying Lamentations.
    Blessings

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  29. wow….I am going to study Lamentations. As a long-time Christian who has served and led for many years, I find myself deeply in lament due to a big ol’ mistake! Purely motivated by pride…the usual. 😥. As one who has prayed for years to be able to “finish strong” I can see myself in Hezekiah. Thank you Pastor Vroegop for your motivation.

    Reply

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