I have just finished reading Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament, a brand new book by Mark Vroegop. And let’s just say, I have had my proverbial cage rattled. Nope, this book is not fun to read, and that’s the beauty of it.
The author is a church pastor, husband, parent, and father of a daughter stillborn. His nearly unspeakable grief in the loss of a child thrust him into an up-close and personal relationship with lament. Out of that came this book.
I think we all get a bit rattled at the mention of lament. The word itself represents pain and suffering – what we spend our lives trying to avoid. Let’s be honest, lament sounds dark and scary. It’s about bad things happening in life. Not to mention, lament falls under being angry with God, doesn’t it? And isn’t that a sin or something? So, as I first began reading Vroegop’s story, I thought, “(Thankfully) none of this applies to me” because I have never experienced anything as horrible as the loss of a child. Whew! So, I’m off the hook for dealing with this messy lament stuff! I thought.
But, as Vroegop teaches - and his writing style is very much that of a teacher - biblical lament is meant for all of us, no matter the ‘size’ of the hurt, loss, or disappointment. Lament gives a voice to any trouble in life, whether the dark clouds come as a passing shower or a hurricane. Lament is a spiritual discipline critical to our well-being as believers, Vroegop contends. It opens the door to grace, mercy, and peace. The author calls upon readers to identify the hurts in our own lives, those pieces in need of lament, and then encourages us to ‘go there’ in a structured and intentional way.
It is clear that Vroegop knows his stuff when it comes to scripture. The book is very well-supported biblically, as the author applies verses directly from the Book of Psalms in creating a framework and formula for practicing lamentation. I like that this book is neither an invitation to a pity party (Vroegop is very clear about not getting stuck in ‘complaint’ mode), nor is it a quick-fix, come-out-on-the-other-side handbook on grief. What it is, is an honest, intelligent, soul-felt guide on why and how the Christian should lament, articulated with realness, compassion, and hope. Vroegop’s approach is practical and user-friendly, and even includes worksheets and sample scripts for the novice lamenter to use when we have no clue where to start or what to say to God.
I found myself thinking on the ideas in this book on my drive to work, at times during the day, and before I fell asleep at night. It has made me ‘uncomfortable’ and a bit distracted. I consider these signs of not only a good book, but one that I needed to read. Having just finished, I can’t say I have completely moved out of my “fear and avoid” mindset on lament – the roots of that are life-long deep. I get in my heart what Vroegop is saying about lament. Now I just need to do the work to wrap it around my head.
This book’s publisher, Crossway, provided me a complimentary copy of the book through the Blog Review Program. I am not paid for reviewing, advertising, or endorsing this book.
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