We’ll spend two weeks on the opening chapter of Part II: Learning to Lament
We need to not only learn to lament,
we need to learn from lament.
Indeed, is this what God is doing in our world right now? Rousing a deaf world? I think so. Though none of us know when the end will come, we do know it will come. I listened to a panel of experts on eschatology with John Piper, each of whom held a different view on when Jesus will come for us: before the tribulation, in the middle of it, or at the end of it. Though they disagreed on timing, they all agreed there would be a time of great suffering, that Jesus would literally come back, and that one day He would reign forever on the new heaven and new earth — and only true believers would live forever on that new heaven and new earth. Perhaps that is why Solomon tells us:
It is better to go into the house of mourning than the house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man, and the living should take this to heart.
I know for me it has been a time of soul-searching, more honest repentance, and, amazingly, a time when I’ve had a deeper sense of the presence of God. I do believe He heard our prayers for what to study at this time, and that Mark Vroegop’s book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy is a treasure, but so are each of you, and what you bring. One comment our own Dawn made was that she was truly getting to know you through your laments. Laments help us drop our masks and get so real! To be naked in Scripture is to be known, and we are becoming known to one another.
Welcome to Those Just Joining for Lamentations!
So glad to have you! We have just finished learning to lament from the psalms, but you’ll catch on if this is new to you. The lament is the way God gave us to pray when we are suffering. There are four parts:
- You turn to God (instead of backing away)
- You complain! (Yes — He knows what you are feeling anyhow — so tell Him.)
- You are still and listen to Him. You ask a question. You remember His character.
- You resolve to trust Him.
I do recommend you get Mark’s book, but even if you don’t, you will get much out of this. This week, if you don’t have Mark’s book, I’ve put the questions you will be able to answer in red.
All you need to do is make a comment and put in your name and e-mail (the e-mail will not be seen.) The first time you comment I need to approve you — but then you just hop on. Sometimes I have to approve you again if you put a link or some kind of alarm goes up — but usually not.
Highlights from Last Week
Here are just 4 from last week that not only sum up where we’ve been,
but prepare us for where we are going, into the deep book of Lamentations.
I recently read Brennan Manning’s book, The Furious Longing of God. In it, he issues a 30-day challenge to pray “Abba, Father, I belong to You.” Today, when I prayed that, I broke down and wept. I can’t explain why, but it acted like a thunderstorm, coming out of nowhere and yet clearing the air. I think lament is like that; a clearing of the air between us and God. But if we don’t move beyond the complaint and ask, we stay in the storm and miss the rainbow promise of His presence.
I have always loved the way the sky looks when a storm is coming our way…especially those magnificent wall clouds! I do not view them particularly as dangerous or something to fear. But in my life, the metaphorical dark gigantic clouds cause me to tremble not knowing how it will impact me. But now I can view them framing them as full of God’s blessings. As my mother had said many times when she was alive, “The darkest times have always been the sweetest times with Jesus.”
The phrase “the clouds which you so dread are rich with mercy and shall break with blessings on your head”. I woke in the middle of the night last night with cold feet and could not get back to sleep with thoughts of scary news and fears of doom swirling about me. In these days of chaos throughout the world and close to home, it is hard NOT to fear. Our only hope is in our mysterious God who is “rich with mercy” and will make things right. This morning I am tired, oh SO tired. Aren’t we all? We must cry for mercy and repent for we have “gone our own way” but God has laid on Jesus the punishment for our sins! “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”(Isaiah 53:6) Thank you, LORD.
Nila: Here is a resource of 9 short videos from Michael Card on the Lament.
If you don’t have a book yet, answer questions in red.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- What lessons have you learned from “the house of mourning?”
Monday: Opening of Chap. 5: A Broken World & A Holy God
3. Read up to Shock and Awe and share what stands out to you and why.
4. Read Shock and Awe and share what stands out to you and why.
5. Read Never Forget
- What is the historical setting of Lamentations 1 & 2?
- What is the acrostic nature of these two chapters meant to show us?
- Take one example of suffering from the following and share something you learned that you do not want to forget:
- What is a historical example of suffering that stands out to you and a lesson learned we should not forget? (holocaust, slavery, a plague, a war…)
- What is a personal example of suffering that stands out to you and a lesson learned you should not forget?
Tuesday: Read Lamentations 1
Prepare your heart with this psalm, which was sung after God’s people have lost Jerusalem and had been taken captive to Babylon. Music by Jason Silver. This is a shocking imprecatory Psalm — indeed, though we are to forgive and not to call vengeance down upon our enemies, we are also to voice our honest feelings to God, and then, as Mary said, move beyond that to trust.
(A story that may give you some comic relief in all of this, is when I mistakingly autographed a young woman’s book with Psalm 137:9, meaning Psalm 37:9 for she had just told me of an injustice done to her family. She, fortunately, came back to me and asked, “Why would you pray that my little ones be dashed against the rocks?” I was aghast and so thankful she came and asked!)
6. Read through all of Lamentations 1 slowly. Many pictures are painted to describe the pain.
Find a few that speak to you and, if possible, explain why.
7. Though Babylon was the enemy that besieged Jerusalem for 3 years and took people captive,
who is behind all this according to verse 5? Does it astonish you that God would do this to His
own? Why or why not?
Wednesday: A Broken World
8. In the book, read the section: Lamentations 1 & 2.
A. How is Jerusalem portrayed in verse 1?
B. What is the big question, as identified by Pastor Mark, in this opening chapter?
9. Read Broken by Sin
A. What pictures from Lamentations 1 does Pastor Mark point out the horror of sin?
B. Can you find any others in Lamentations 1?
C. How has a specific sin of yours brought pain and destruction? Can you lament it here?
10. Memorials, like the Holocaust Museum, can help us remember the weight of sin. Have you
visited any, and if so, how have they impacted you?
Thursday: Our False Lovers
11. Many of you have done studies on idolatry, perhaps my book, Idol Lies. If so, how are
our idols like false lovers?
12. Read the section: A Turning to God and share what stands out to you.
13. Read Hebrews 12:25-29
A. What warning are we given in verse 25?
B. What is God’s purpose in shaking our world according to verses 27-28?
C. How has God shaken your world in the last 4 months, and what have you learned?
Friday: Reflection Questions
14. Look at questions 1 through 4 and take two to answer.
15. Read through Lamentations 1 again and share anything that becomes radioactive.
16. What is your take-a-way and why?