The Language of Lament


"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

One of this summer’s study group is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The sermon is rich and powerful message proclaim by the Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Lord and Savior.

Matthew 5:1-12 is called the beatitudes. Here, Christ declared who are blessed. [Blessedness was a common biblical form in both Testaments, Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 3:13; Daniel 12:12; Acts 20:35; Revelation 1:3.] ‘Those who are and/or will be happy or fortunate. ‘Those who are “to be congratulated” because God has favorably responded to present conditions and attitudes. But is mourning a blessing, too? I personally have become intrigued with the topic of lament with the passing of my mother and with my various encounters with the sufferings of our Liberian friends.

Theologically, and unfortunately, the early Church (4th century) resisted lamenting or mourning. During that period several church fathers formulated doctrines of providence (how God preserves and governs the world) that precluded lament – viewing mourning and such response to pain as a sinful failure to recognizing God’s sovereignty.

But lamenting is a legitimate and acceptable theological reality. Lamentation was echoed from the cross when our Savior cried out: “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” We do suffer and Christ’s lament is a model for us. “Believers fellowship with Christ and have His character built within them not just in suffering but also in lament.” [Webster, BSAC 164:656 (Oct 2007)]

“Lament is the language of the painful incongruity between lived experience (we mourn) and the promises of God” – [we] shall be comforted [Webster, citing Billman and Miglore] I can’t state this in a more profound way. AMEN!

-- E.C. Malone 06/12/15

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