5 Reasons to Study Lamentations
Recovering the language of lament
By Mark Vroegop, Guest Contributor
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 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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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.
I love this book at this Season . How can I appreciate the love of God without suffering.
Thanks the exposure of this book.
Mark Vroegop is my pastor! Thank you for this refreshing blog. I pray that many will read it and understand Lament in a better way. God has given us a beautiful & real language and a whole book of the Bible to help us understand it. What a God! Blessings to all of you at H.Q.
Looking forward to studying Lamentations ! To know that I can bring my grieve and pain in my sufferings to our merciful and gracious God gives me joy and hope . May Jesus remove my unbelief and help me to trust him no matter what
I thought Lamentations is just a dirge. I was surprised to be blessed by its profound message
of God’s Love and Mercy.
We can always cry out to Him and He will hear our call.
Thankyou Pastor Mark for a mind opening message. Looking forward to studying the book of Lamentation.
Not knowing how the study is structured, I look forward to the opportunity to relate and contrast Lamentations to Jeremiah since both books are supposed to have been authored by the prophet.
Does God ever cry from our unending sin against His commandments and holiness?
Yes definately. He yearns to be with us and yet human beings seemed not able to come around
I believe He who loves most, hurts most or deeply. Therefore no one loves more than Almighty God. So humans can hurt him deeply. 1 John 4:8
Would love to do this study
Hi Mary! We would be glad to have you in BSF. Please visit join.bsfinternational.org to find a group near you.
Thanks for the opportunity to participate in a mini study on Lamentations.
It’s wonderful timing in my life now to see your teaching of Lamentations. It brought me back to be more aware of how I should adjust myself for God. Thank God for guiding my life journey through all the angels he brought around me.
BSF has been a blessing to me. I learn God’s truths which on my own could not have known. Thanks for your sharing. Looking forward to the study of the book of Lamentations.God bless you.
BSF has been a blessing to me. I learn truths which on my own could not have known. Thanks for your sharing. Looking forward to the study of the book of Lamentations.God bless you.
BSF has been a blessing to me. I learn truths which on my own could not have known. Thanks for your sharing. God bless you.
Looking forward to the study. Lamentation fits right into our study this year .
Thankyou for sharing this blog! When I heard we were going to do a mini study on Lamentations I was not looking forward to it. But after reading the five reasons we must study this book, I am now really looking forward to this study! I am a BSF Group Leader and will definitely share this blog with my ladies and get them excited as well. Thankyou so much !!!
I am having neurosurgery tomorrow. This will be the third surgery, but the last three months I’ve had physical agony like I have never experienced before. I am looking to God to heal me through this surgery and trusting that He will. As we’ve studied Isaiah, I have learned for the first time that we should praise the Lord in our suffering. At first, I felt that was impossible, but He gave me reasons why this is so – it develops character, and it lets us understand how we can comfort others in pain. God sent word through Isaiah that there will be consequences of sin, but that He will restore His people in the future – there is hope. I have been thinking a lot about this. I know now that going through agony without hope, would be worse than the agony of pain. Praising in the midst of agony says “Lord I have hope in you.” Praise God!
I know it is not coincidence that these readings came during this time in my life. I look forward to the lessons of Lamentations.
Praying for you, Linda.
Praying for you Linda. I too had back pain and in surgery they fused
5 vertebrae. My physical therapist came to the house for a week and we talked about the Lord as we did therapy. I already knew God, but she shared BSF with me and I knew I had to know more! Praise God he is so faithful! I am now a group leader,
Able to play golf and growing deeper in the Lord Jesus, without
pain. 🙏🙏 for your recovery in Jesus name
Thank you for this very informative message, it will help me as we study this Book & I know it will encourage my ladies &.leaders as we read the Book of Lamentations. Blessings
Thanks for sharing. It was a blessing to me.
This blog is a must read. I love BSF. Have been in the studies for at least 14 years and I learn new things each year.
This blog is rich in understanding the purpose of Lamentations and somewhat like Revelations it is bypassed.
Thank you BSF for sharing this insightful read. We all can gain addition insights to the book of Lamentations.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Such an inspiring insight that can help steady our faith in trying times.
The church and people are a turning point to hear hear God’s calling of peoples to repent and turn back to Him. Preachers/ church leader need to stand up and not be” liberal”. Sin is sin
What a book I’m one of those Who haven’t read this book.
I’m challenged and inspired to read it
I believe lamentations is essential for our every day living I would encourage everybody to read it because this is our daily life
The 5 reasons to study lamentations are very insightful… Looking forward
Great, will be looking forward to studying the books.
Looking forward to the study!
Too often we wonder why do bad things happen, not just to good people but all people suffer. As a Christian, too often, we use glib phrases to react to suffering because we don’t know what else to say.
Sometimes the best we to offer is sit, listen, and be still with a friend who is suffering. We need to acknowledge the pain in suffering while also acknowledging only the Holy Spirit is the true comforter.
Praying that for us to see God in our suffering
Think all scripture is beneficial for learning and relevant. It teaches us some of Almighty God’s qualities and how he feels about his people/servants.
After reading 5 reasons to study Lamentations, I am so encouraged to study this book. Thank you so much for enlightening us on the importance of the changes this study can make in our lives. May God continue to bless and keep you, and encourage you in your teachings.
Yours in Christ,
Very use full to me.
We study together for the glory of our lord Jesus Christ
Love this. Helps me appreciate how grounded the Bible is in reality and in hope.
This message was truly meant for me. The heartache and grief that has hammered me has left me struggling for faith. I am encouraged to study lamentations in search of faith hope and love.
Thank you for putting a light on this for me at just the right time.
Great article! Motivates me to study Lamentations! Thank you!
Wow, this was enlightening, I have never thought of reading lamentation but now I have to start reading it. Thanks