Everyone will face suffering in life, and the grace of lament helps Christians persevere. I recommend this book for anyone who is grieving or walking through suffering. Since every person daily interacts with the effects of sin upon the world, all believers will benefit from learning how to respond to sin and suffering with lament.
One night, fifteen years ago, pastor Mark Vroegop was stirred awake by his wife, who had spent hours searching for the heartbeat of their full-term baby. Two days later, he held the lifeless body of his daughter, Sylvia. Days later, the Vroegop family—Mark, Sarah, and their three sons—placed a small casket in the cold Michigan ground in the middle of winter.
In Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, Mark Vroegop recounts his journey with God through lament. Mark’s voyage began with an honest and desperate prayer: “No, Lord! Please not this!” (p. 14). His petition echoes the groans of many counselees and church members. Counselors serve as first responders in crisis moments. Some counselees seek help years after traumatic events have left deep wounds. Everyone recognizes that life aches. Vroegop gives Christians a biblical response to suffering through the grace of lament.
Reflecting upon Lamentations, Vroegop shows that under the dark clouds of life, there is deep mercy. Against the backdrop of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah balances God’s sovereignty in the nation’s destruction with God’s sustaining mercies. Jeremiah reflects upon the nation’s suffering and humiliation (Lam. 2:1) while declaring the Lord’s steadfast love for His people (Lam. 3:22). This tension creates space for lament, as Christians bring their sorrows to God while trusting in His never-ending mercies.
Christians affirm that the world is broken, God is powerful, and he will be faithful. Therefore, lament stands in the gap between pain and promise (p. 26).
To cry is human, but lament is Christian (p. 26).
Lament is “a prayer in pain that leads to trust” (p. 28). One finds lament throughout Scripture’s poetic books as men and women express their suffering to God. Tapping into this biblical pattern, Vroegop presents four characteristics of lament. “This poetic odyssey usually includes four key elements: (1) an address to God, (2) a complaint, (3) a request, and (4) an expression of trust and/or praise” (p. 29). The flow of lament prevents the hurting from settling into a faithless silence toward God by giving us language to process grief. Lament moves us toward active trust in the Lord.