Thursday, February 21, 2019

Book Review: Dark Clouds Deep Mercy

Dark Clouds Deep Mercy: Discovering The Grace of Lament. Mark Vroegop. 2019. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the introduction: Learning to lament began on my knees. “No, Lord!” I pleaded. “Please not this!” It was 2004, and my wife, Sarah, awakened me, concerned that something was wrong with her pregnancy.

First sentence from chapter one: Who taught you to cry? The answer, of course, is “no one.” Although you don’t remember it, the first sound you made when you left the warm and protected home of your mother’s womb was a loud wail.

Dark Clouds Deep Mercy is a must read book for Christians in my opinion. It is simply an AMAZING read. Vroegop guides readers through the four elements of lament by teaching through four lament psalms and an entire book of laments--Lamentations. By the end of the book, believers will know what it means to lament, why it is important to lament, and perhaps more importantly still how they can themselves lament and learn from the process.

I believe that every person has either suffered pain or loss at some point in his or her life. So the book is more likely than not already relevant. If not yet--it probably will be soon enough. Lament is the Christian response to living in a world ruined--soured--by sin, injustice, pain, suffering, loss, grief, death.

What is lament?
  • Lament is how you live between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty.
  • Lament is how Christians grieve. It is how to help hurting people. Lament is how we learn important truths about God and our world.
  • Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness.
  • Lament is rooted in what we believe. It is a prayer loaded with theology. 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.
  • Lament typically asks at least two questions: (1) “Where are you, God?” (2) “If you love me, why is this happening?
  • Lament is a path to praise as we are led through our brokenness and disappointment.
  • Lament is a prayer that leads us through personal sorrow and difficult questions into truth that anchors our soul.
  • Part of the grace of lament is the way it invites us to pray boldly even when we are bruised badly.
  • Lament helps us to practice active patience.
  • Trust looks like talking to God, sharing our complaints, seeking God’s help, and then recommitting ourselves to believe in who God is and what he has done—even as the trial continues. Lament is how we endure. It is how we trust. It is how we wait.
  • Lament tunes the heart so it can sing about trust.
  • Lament is not merely an expression of sorrow; it is a memorial. Memorials help us remember by making us feel the weight of a tragedy. Without them, we are prone to forget and repeat the mistakes of the past.
  • Lament is the language that calls us, as exiles, to uncurl our fingers from our objects of trust.
  • Lament rises from a firm belief in the character of God, an understanding of the brokenness of sin, and a heartfelt longing for the completion of God’s redemptive plan.
  • Lament is the historic prayer language for hurting Christians. It provides a biblical vocabulary and a model for talking to God about our pain or helping those who are walking through suffering.
  • Lament cracks the door open to talk to God again—even if it’s messy.
  • Lament helps us see that complaining to God is not necessarily sinful. For hurting people, knowing that this expression of grief is a biblical and a God-given category can be a watershed moment. 
What are the four steps in lamenting?
  • Turning to God
  • Bringing Your Complaint to God
  • Asking Boldly of God
  • Choosing to Trust God
Food for thought:
  • Without hope in God’s deliverance and the conviction that he is all-powerful, there would be no reason to lament when pain invaded our lives.
  • To pray in pain, even with its messy struggle and tough questions, is an act of faith where we open up our hearts to God. Prayerful lament is better than silence. Giving God the silent treatment, it is the ultimate manifestation of unbelief.
  • What portions of Scripture do you use to anchor your soul to who God is?
  • You are not meant to linger in complaint. If you never move beyond complaint, lament loses its purpose and its power.
  • Suffering refines what we trust in and how we talk about it.
  • Every Christian has a record of God’s steadfast love. Therefore, we should remind ourselves about God’s worthiness to be trusted. To be a Christian means trusting in what God says and who he is. We came to faith that way. We trusted that the Bible is true. We believed forgiveness is possible for those who receive Christ. Trusting in God’s grace welcomed us into God’s family. But that was only the beginning. Christians don’t leave behind trusting God after coming to faith. On the contrary, being a follower of Jesus requires that we walk through life in continual trust.
  • One of the greatest joys of the new heavens and the new earth will be the absence of all songs of sorrow. Perhaps we’ll sing the Psalms, but we’ll not sing all of them. In God’s presence there will be no need to lament. All our complaints will be complete. Our requests will have been answered. Praise will be in the air we breathe.
I loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. It is a fantastic read. Every chapter is packed with the Word of God. It is a practical book as well. He teaches readers how to unpack their pain and suffering in a biblical way.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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