Suffering in God's presence: the role of lament in transformation.
Lament is a Christian practice modeled for us by Jesus. In this article, I argue that lament is a spiritual discipline that assists the sufferer to reconstruct meaning after the disorienting effects of the suffering. Drawing on the psychological literature on stress-related growth, I show how the structure of the psalms of lament facilitates the process of growth through meaning-making. Lament is a stylized form of speech consisting of five common elements that define a specific trajectory. The elements are an address to God, complaints, request, motivation (why God should act), and confidence in God. The trajectory of lament involves a psychological move from distress to praise, and from disorientation to new orientation. I argue that the meaning that is achieved is not primarily rational or propositional, but instead is anchored in the intimate, dialogical relationship with God.
Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care
Hall, M. Elizabeth Lewis, "Suffering in God's presence: the role of lament in transformation." (2016). Faculty Articles & Research. 111.